June 16, 2024

Hong Kong welcomed over 11 million visitors in first quarter, finance chief Paul Chan says, more than double last year’s figures

“Inflation remained relatively moderate. Visitor arrivals exceeded 11 million, providing certain support to the local retail, food and beverage, and transport industries.”

The latest figures showed the number of visitors in the first three months of 2024 had more than doubled from the same period last year. The city welcomed 4.4 million inbound travellers between January and March 2023, with 76 per cent of them coming from mainland China, according to the Tourism Board.

More than 450,000 residents left the city on Saturday during the Easter break, accounting for about 78 per cent of the total number exiting the territory. About 135,000 visitors entered over the same period. More than 795,500 people, mostly residents, left the city the day before.

Chan said the companies in the sector were not recovering equally, noting that the economy still needed strengthening.

Financial Secretary Paul Chan (left) visits Art Basel. He has praised the impact of major events under the “Art March” banner. Photo: FSO

“Businesses located in different areas or targeting different customer segments have experienced significant variations in the extent of their recovery,” Chan said.

“Local economic growth still requires further strengthening, as rapid shifts in consumer behaviour and market dynamics pose numerous challenges for many local small and medium-sized enterprises.”

The Monetary Authority on Thursday last week announced nine measures to support the financing needs of small and medium-sized companies and assist them in sustaining their operations and development amid a strained business environment.

Among the measures were calls for banks to “never demand” early repayments from mortgage customers who made timely payments, even when their collateral valuation declined. Banks should also avoid adjusting loan limits solely based on collateral value changes.

A minimum transition period of six months will also be provided for credit-limit adjustments under certain conditions to SMEs facing difficulties.

“These actions aim to prevent unnecessary pressure on SMEs’ funding during short-term asset market fluctuations and mitigate the risk of triggering chain reactions,” Chan said.

The finance chief also stressed the importance of attracting more footfall and enhancing consumer spending power to create more business opportunities and boost sales.

Hong Kong malls offer free parking as 541,000 people leave city for Easter break

“Both the financial events and art festivals serve to attract increased business activities and tourist spending. Estimations show that about HK$3 billion [US$383.3 million] in revenue will be generated for Hong Kong with every 1.5 million visitors,” he said.

“They also create a positive environment and atmosphere for various industries.”

He said the city’s “Financial Mega Event Week” had been focal point last week, with three major summits taking place, as well as business lunches and seminars, to bring together more than a thousand global political and business leaders, high net worth individuals, asset owners and representatives from multinational financial institutions.

“These visitors have extensive business and interpersonal networks, with the events generating more high-value visitors for the city,” Chan said.

He added that the events taking place during “Art March”, including Art @ Victoria Harbour, the International Cultural Summit, ComplexCon, Art Basel and Art Central, had also attracted thousands of residents and visitors.

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