Jan-Nov visitor arrivals hit 32m – surpassing last year’s total
The Chairman of the Travel Industry Council, Michael Wu, has expressed confidence that Hainan province’s new departure tax rebate policy does not present a threat to Hong Kong’s tourism industry.
"In Hong Kong, no matter whether it’s big brands, sport shoes, or cameras, Hong Kong has the latest and newest varieties, and yet the cheapest price," Wu said on a local radio program Tuesday. "For mainlanders, due to the currency rate, buying in Hong Kong is pretty much like having a discount of 25 percent off on everything. We don’t see the rebate having any influence."

Hainan officials announce Monday that it is to launch shopping departure tax refund pilot program for foreign tourists on January 1. The policy covers a range of 21 types of goods, including clothes, cosmetics, jewelry, watches, and electronics. Shoppers with purchases of more than 800 yuan at one shop will be able to enjoy a refund of 11 percent, making Hainan the first tax-free shopping zone for foreign tourists on the mainland.

Meanwhile, record-high visitor arrival figures released on Tuesday by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) showed further proof of strong growth.

Visitor arrivals to Hong Kong in the first 11 months of 2010 totalled over 32 million – representing year-on-year growth of 22.5 percent and already ahead of full-year 2009 figures. About two thirds of the arrivals are from the mainland. Visitors surpassed the previous full-year total through November alone at 20.4 million.

The HKTB indicated that arrivals from the mainland, as well as other short-haul and long-haul markets have been growing at satisfactory rates.

Arrivals in the city from all short-haul markets went up by 18.6 percent in the first 11 months of this year. The cumulative 11-month arrivals from the long-haul regions also registered year-on-year growth of more than 10 percent.

The HKTB said that the main contributing factor to the significant growth in visitors from the North Asian market this year was the growing number of South Korean tourists. There has been a year-on-year increase of 45 percent in the first 11 months. Meanwhile, the appreciation of the yen also boosted arrivals from Japan.

Additionally, outstanding growth also came from tourists arriving from India and Russia. Indian arrivals through the first 11 months have surged by 47.2 percent. Russian arrivals soared by 89.6 percent in November alone, and doubled in the first 11 months.

The HKTB indicated that the visa-free arrangements was one of the prime factors in attracting more Russian visitors to Hong Kong.

As for the Middle East, arrivals rose steadily by 8.8 percent in November and 21.6 percent for the first 11 months.

SOURCE: China Daily

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