Conversions paper over cracks
Hong Kong received a record 48.6 million visitors from around the world in 2012, a 16 per cent increase over 2011. The former chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, James Tien Pei-chun, predicted earlier this year that the number of tourists who will visit Hong Kong in 2013 will exceed 50 million. He added that this will help create lots of job opportunities in various industries.
But Michael Li, executive director of the Federation of Hong Kong Hotel Owners, said earlier this year that the government had failed to offer enough land to the hospitality industry to build large hotels. The sector has had no alternative but to transform industrial buildings into small hotels, which has meant that only two- and three-star hotels have been opened recently. Li says that the government should introduce appropriate policies to help the industry's future development.
Li added that while Hong Kong received a record number of visitors last year, over 70 per cent came from the mainland. As many were same-day visitors and did not stay overnight, the hotel industry did not benefit.
On the subject of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge - scheduled to open in 2016 - Li said that although the bridge will bring more visitors to the city, it will also help to take more people out. This will again bring little benefit to the hotel industry, he added.