HONG KONG -- Hong Kong welcomed a record 13 million visitors last
year, a 15% increase compared with 1999, generating billions of
dollars in sales for businesses, hotels and tourist attractions,
and breaking all previous records set during the pre-handover
tourism rush in 1996.
"This finally puts to rest the post-handover recession blues,"
said Hong Kong Tourist Association chairman Selina Chow, who added
that leisure, business and other travelers visiting Hong Kong spent
a record $7.69 billion last year.
"While some sectors, such as retail, have still not reaped the
full benefit of the tourism recovery, all signs indicate this year
 should see continued growth and higher spending," Chow
"What we don't want to see is any sharp increase in prices.
After all, it is the lower air fares, lower hotel rates and lower
retail prices over the past three years that have restored Hong
Kong's competitive edge."
According to the association, Hong Kong recorded double-digit
visitor growth last year from almost all of its top feeder markets,
including short- and long-haul destinations.
The best-performing regions were North Asia (up nearly 20%),
mainland China (up 18%) and south and southeast Asia and Taiwan
(each up 15.6%).
Long-haul markets Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific
were each up 15%, while the U.S. was up 12.5%.
These record-breaking visitor figures gave Hong Kong the
distinction of having the highest hotel occupancy in the
Asia-Pacific region last year, according to a survey by
For the year, Hong Kong's hotels averaged 83% occupancy, up from
79% in 1999, but still short of the record 88% occupancy recorded
The jump in occupancy last year compared with 1999 was achieved
despite a nearly 3% increase in the number of available hotel
rooms, which stands at approximately 35,000.
The average daily room rate in Hong Kong last year was $90,
nearly 10% higher than in 1999, PricewaterhouseCoopers said.
PricewaterhouseCoopers also said it expects occupancy rates to
fall slightly during the next three years as more hotel rooms come
The firm predicted that room rates would soften next year when
5,000 new three- and four-star hotel rooms open.