Island visitor numbers up in '99

HONG KONG -- Hong Kong welcomed 10.68 million visitors in 1999, an 11.5% increase compared with 1998, according to the Hong Kong Tourist Association.

The 1999 figures represent the highest number since the record 11.7 million visitors recorded in 1996, the association said.

The total for December, the traditional start of the three-month festive season, was 972,977, the fifth month in 1999 in which more than 900,000 arrivals were recorded and the 18th month of continuous growth, the association said.

Average hotel occupancies also were up, rising to 79%, up three percentage points compared with 1998. Hotels in the High Tariff B category scored the highest occupancy rate, or 83%, the association said.

According to the association, all markets grew, with the short-haul market returning double-digit growth. South and Southeast Asia were up 19%, mainland China 18.7%, North Asia 13.8% and Taiwan 10.3%.

The growth was more moderate among the long-haul markets, with North and South America recording a 4.7% rate of growth, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, 2.1%, and Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific, 0.4%.

The two largest feeder markets -- mainland China and Taiwan -- both set records, with arrivals topping 3 million and 2 million, respectively.

Visitors from the U.S. numbered 802,705, an increase of 3.8%, and Canada sent 210,899 tourists, or 8.5% more.

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