HONG KONG -- The Hong Kong Tourist Association unveiled a marketing
campaign and appointed a new director of U.S. operations to lead
its Los Angeles office.
Lily Shum, who currently is general manager of marketing
communications at HKTA headquarters here, will take over as
regional director for the Americas, which includes the U.S., Canada
and South America, in June. In a previous North American stint for
the HKTA, Shum opened the association's Canadian office in Toronto,
where she worked for five years, and she also served in the
association's Chicago and Los Angeles locations. Shum is taking
over the Los Angeles post from Ken Lambert, who left the HKTA to
become vice president of sales and marketing for Canadian chain
Delta Hotels & Resorts.
The HKTA's new campaign, "Hong Kong, City of Life," has a budget
of $13 million and is scheduled for a June rollout. "I think the
first thing is to use this campaign to raise a higher profile and
take advantage of the interest in Asia," Shum said. "We want to
take advantage of that and the currency situation."
Besides promoting Hong Kong as a convenient stepping stone to
travel bargains in the region, the drive seeks to re-brand the
destination using five key points:Hong Kong as a city with the most energetic people in the
world.Hong Kong as one of the world's five premier cities, along with
New York, Tokyo, London and Paris.Hong Kong as a city that offers the most concentrated diversity
of experiences of any city in the world.Hong Kong's new identity and era following the 1997 handover to
China.Hong Kong as a cosmopolitan city.
Shum said that the promotion of Hong Kong as being cosmopolitan
will get the most play in Asia. In the U.S., Shum said she sees a
wealth of opportunity.
U.S. arrivals to the Special Administrative Region increased
about 7% last year, while the beleaguered Asian economies caused a
nosedive in regional tourism. Shum predicted that low air fares
from carriers such as Cathay Pacific Airways, United Airlines and
Northwest Airlines and the no-visa-required policy in place for
U.S. visitors will lure more Americans.
"Recently, prices have decreased significantly for the American
market," Shum said, adding that Hong Kong-based wholesaler Holiday
Hospitality and New-York based Pacific Delight are set to team up
with the HKTA to offer low-priced packages to the destination. "It
becomes affordable to a lot more people now," she said. "We used to
target travelers with incomes of $100,000. Now we're targeting
$75,000 or even lower because of the lower prices." With the
addition of about 5,000 more hotel rooms in Hong Kong by the end of
the year, Shum said, complaints about the high cost of
accommodations should subside due to increased competition.
North America also presents unique marketing difficulties to the
HKTA, Shum said. "I see a challenge in the cost of distribution and
communication because it's a huge market." The new director said
she is prepared to battle some stubborn ideas many Americans have
about Hong Kong. "I think there is a certain misconception among
certain people," she said. "There are people who still don't know
if Hong Kong is a colonial city or a Chinese city. We have to tell
people nothing has changed except the flag and the defense. The
place is still run by the Hong Kong police -- the Hong Kong
people," she said.
The HKTA's marketing plans will get a boost in June, when a
series of government-sponsored consumer travel promotions head to
New York, Washington and Seattle. Also, opening ceremonies will be
held July 1 for Hong Kong's new Chek Lap Kok Airport. Flights will
commence on July 6.