Drop in hotel rates clips HK tourism receipts

HONG KONG -- Hong Kong's tourism receipts decreased slightly during the first half of 1999, mostly due to a more than 40% drop in the average hotel rate, according to the Hong Kong Tourist Association.

The drop in receipts coincided with an increase of 11.4% in tourist arrivals -- to approximately 5 million visitors -- during the first six months of the year, when compared to 1998.

From January to June 1999, total tourism receipts fell by 1.7%, to a total of approximately $3.2 billion, when compared to the same time period in 1998. According to HKTA deputy executive director Douglas Gautier, the drop in tourism receipts can be attributed to the carry-over of depressed economies in key Asian source markets, which lowers spending power, and large reductions in the price of air fares, tour packages, retail goods and room rates.

While hotel occupancy levels increased to a healthy 77% from 72% during the first six months of 1998, the average hotel rate dropped by more than 40%, according to Gautier, who said hotel rates are now comparable to those of almost a decade ago.

Gautier said shopping accounted for more than half of all tourism receipts, while hotel bills claimed 24.7% of the pie.

Mainland Chinese brought in the most money -- 28.6% of the total -- to their newest territory, followed by Taiwan with 19.6%; South and Southeast Asia with 12.7%; the Americas with 11.3%; Europe, Africa and the Middle East with 10.2%, and Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific with 3.5%.

U.S. travelers spent an average of $213 per day in Hong Kong, which placed Americans fifth on the spending list, following Taiwanese, Japanese, Spanish and Italians.

As well as bringing in the most tourist money, Mainland China also sent the most tourists, nearly 30% of the total, to Hong Kong.

Gautier said the HKTA now estimates that 10.2 million travelers will visit Hong Kong during 1999. That number is more than 6% above last year's total and almost double the growth rate it forecast at the beginning of the year.

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