Mainland's 'golden week' boosts HK's holiday economy

Having been described on the Chinese mainland as "golden week" for years, the National Day holiday this year really brought "gold" to Hong Kong.

Never before have the tourism-related sectors in Hong Kong treated the golden week so seriously and never before have they shared such a big "cake" brought about by the National Day holiday(Oct. 1- 7). The golden week in fact has become a peak consuming week in Hong Kong.

With full-range of preparations by the tourism related sectors,Hong Kong welcomed over 287,000 Chinese mainland visitors from Sept. 28 to Oct. 5, and of them, 800,000 to 90,000 came as "individual tourists".

Analysts here said that if each mainland tourist spends 6,000 HK dollars (777 US dollars) on an average during their stay in Hong Kong, 1.7 billion HK dollars (220 million US dollars) could be expected to rush into Hong Kong during the golden week.

The analysts believed that the Chinese mainland's golden week really gave a boost to Hong Kong's holiday economy.

The mainland's tourism golden week has become a prime consumingweek in Hong Kong, and purchasing in the so called "shopping paradise" has already become a major destination for many Chinese mainland tourists, as visiting scenic spots has become their sparetime programs.

During the past few days, mainland tourists are spotted in every big shopping centers and famous scenic spots in Hong Kong. Even the property market was given a boost after the "individual visit" was granted to a number of cities in the mainland, and horsing racing betting witnessed the record volume with the participation in of more Chinese mainland tourists.

As Hong Kong known as "shopping paradise", mainland visitors usually list shopping as their priority task, as they can buy world brands products in a much lower price, as compared shopping in the mainland cities.

Sha Sha Cosmetics enjoyed a popular fame among Chinese mainlandresidents. A manager of a Sha Sha chain store in the downtown Causeway Bay said that during the golden week, the average sales volume is 25 percent higher then that of the usual period, thanks to the granting of "individual visits" to more mainland tourists.

Business of Hong Kong restaurants also witnessed about a 20 percent increase with the coming of more visitors.

All the tourism related sectors -- hotels, restaurants, transport, travel agencies and retail shops, have benefited from the rushing in of nearly 290,000 Chinese mainland tourists.

The rapid growth of economic development of the Chinese mainland and the strengthened individual purchasing power have already made Hong Kong residents look them with new eyes.

Eying the huge potential of the holiday economy after the opening of "individual visit" to more mainland residents, Hong Kong's tourism related sectors had coordinated their efforts in preparing for mainland visitors in advance, to ensure that the visitors spend a good time in Hong Kong.

An inter-department headquarters was operational during the holidays to ensure that visitors have a smooth travel here.

    Helen Wong went to Lo Wu cross boundary check point to bring her parents to Hong Kong on Oct. 1 and saw them off four days later. To her surprise, it took her only 10 minutes altogether to go through the Shenzhen and Hong Kong check points each time, which could not be done during most the of holidays in the past.

To ensure the quick clearance of passengers at the cross boundary check points, Hong Kong's Immigration Department increased 266 staff members from other divisions to reinforce their work in the four land check points. On Oct. 1, Acting director of the department Wong Tatpo also visited the Lo Wu, HongKong's biggest and busiest check point, to observe the passenger flow.

To attract more visitors to Hong Kong, Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) had made advertisements in the mainland press media severalmonths ago.

Hotels, retail stores and big restaurants have speeded up the Mandarin training of their staff members in the past few months for the coming of more mainland tourists. Even broadcasts in metrostations and Shenzhen-Hong Kong trains added Mandarin, apart from the original Cantonese and English.

Big shopping centers as Time Square and SOGO arranged special holiday bazaars for discounted world brand products with the golden week, though October is not a sales season.

To let visitors have smooth shopping and sight-seeing, a "tourism kit" prepared by Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) is available for tourist arrivals in Hong Kong. The HKTB increased the printing of the kits and sent its staff members to various land and sea check points, or the airport, to deliver the copies and answer questions from the passengers.

Six big banks as the Standard Chartered and the Bank of China extended their business hours specially for mainland tourists.

It was the first time that big banks in Hong Kong extended their business hours for mainland tourists.

Apart from exchanging renminbi into HK dollars for Chinese mainland tourists, the banks also provides services as account opening, strong-box using and registration of stock exchange accounts.

No wonder Zhong Mei, an "individual visitor" from Beijing, feltso satisfied with her shopping experience -- a set of white gold necklace, a diamond ring, a Cour Carrie coat, two pairs of Japanese eye glasses and over 3,000 HK dollars worth of world top brand cosmetic products.

She has so pleasant that she said she would come to Hong Kong again in the winter sales season next year, together with their parents.

Hong Kong tourism sectors have shared the same view that the golden week is a rare "ready-made cake" for Hong Kong tourism development. To maintain a sustainable tourism growth is essentialfor the sectors.

They believed that visitors' good experience in Hong Kong is the best and charge-free advertisement for Hong Kong tourism, as they would surely tell their family members and friends their realexperience here.

If shop owners want to make quick money and cheat tourists, theacts would spoil the whole industry and even the door of "individual visit" open to more mainland cities, not so much visitors would come and the final victim will be themselves, localpress warned earlier.

HKTB Chairwomen Selina Chow said Monday that about one fifth oftourist revenue during the current golden week were contributed bymainland's individual visitors. She believed that the consuming power of the individual tourists from the mainland would continue to pick up and become one of the major forces for pushing ahead with Hong Kong's tourism development.

She said Hong Kong is the most internationalized city in Asia. If Hong Kong retailers maintain their good credit and provide mostfashionable products, more tourists would be attracted.



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