The hospitality sector is a key part of Hong Kong’s economy. In 2007, about 28.1 million tourists visited Hong Kong, representing 11.6% growth over 2006. Per capita spending of visitors was US$665, a growth of 6.7% over 2006. As of March 2008, there were 143 hotels with 52,224 rooms and 522 tourist guesthouses with 5,180 rooms in Hong Kong. According to industry sources, there will be 203 hotels with 64,893 rooms by 2012. While the recent economic slowdown will likely have an impact on this sector in general, the demand for hospitality training over the long-term will likely grow.
In the 2008-2009 Hong Kong SAR government budget, various tourism-related proposals have been announced to stimulate the growth of the tourism sector in Hong Kong. The government has proposed to designate certain areas as "restricted to hotel use"; to develop a new cruise terminal at the old Kai Tak airport site by February 2012; to earmark an additional US$19.5 million to step up overseas promotion to enhance the appeal of Hong Kong as an international convention, exhibition and tourism capital. The government has also exempted the duties on wine, beer and all other alcoholic beverages except spirits in a move to improve hospitality-related business. From July 1, 2008, the government waived the charge of 3% hotel accommodation tax on all accommodation charges. These government proposals and initiatives are designed to continue to stimulate Hong Kong’s hospitality sector.
The development of new hotels and tourism-related infrastructure proposals reflects long term growth projections for hospitality services demand in the region. As a result, Hong Kong expects a long term need for skilled, well-trained and experienced workers to deliver quality customer service in the hospitality industry. Hospitality training services are essential to growth in this sector.
While Hong Kong’s over-all growth will likely be affected by recent global economic problems, its long term forecast for growth in the hospitality sector remains bright for the following reasons:
• Hong Kong is a major regional tourism, business and exhibition hub.
• The Hong Kong Government continues to invest in tourism related infrastructure to enhance its hospitality sector.
• The Hong Kong Government is focused on MICE related training.
Several tourism-related proposals by the Hong Kong Government will likely bolster visitor arrivals and spending in Hong Kong in the coming years, including: the 2009 East Asian Games in Hong Kong, the redevelopment of the Ocean Park, the Stanley Waterfront and the Peak Improvement projects, Aberdeen Tourism project, the development of a Piazza in Tsim Sha Tsui, the development of a new cruise terminal, the heritage tourism development at the former Marine Police Headquarters Compound, and the expansion of Hong Kong Disneyland.
Futhermore, the Meetings, Incentives, Convention and Exhibitions (MICE) industry in Hong Kong is also contributing to the hospitality industry. The government has made this a high priority and therefore plans to invest in MICE related training and manpower development. The Hong Kong Government’s newly established a cross-sector Steering Committee on MICE has identified the following 4 priorities:
• Stepping up marketing efforts
• Enhancing infrastructure and facilities
• Revitalizing the Hong Kong brand
• Retaining and nurturing talent
According to the Hong Kong Tourism Board, 296 conventions and exhibitions were held in Hong Kong in 2006, over 779,000 overseas visitors, a growth of 23.4% over 2005. The government will provide US$19.5 million in the 2008-09 Budget to promote MICE in the next five years. If government and industry planners are correct, there will be more job opportunities in the hospitality industry in the coming years.
By Cannes Leung