July 20, 2024
Finance

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


“Inflation remained relatively moderate,” he said. “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 was more than double the number logged for the same period last year.

The Tourism Board said the city welcomed 4.4 million inbound travellers between January and March 2023, 76 per cent of them from mainland China.

More than 450,000 Hongkongers left on Saturday, about 78 per cent of the total number who exited the city, and about 135,000 visitors entered.

More than 795,500 people, mostly residents, left the city the day before.

Chan said the companies in the sector were not recovering at an equal rate and added the economy still needed a boost.

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

“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 revealed nine measures to support the finance needs of SMEs and to help them sustain operations and development in a strained business environment.

Among the measures was an appeal to banks to “never demand” early repayments from mortgage customers who made timely payments, even when their collateral valuation declined.

The authority added banks should also avoid adjustment of loan limits based only on collateral value changes.

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

“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 boosting consumer spending power to create more business opportunities and increase 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,” Chan said. “Estimates show that about HK$3 billion [US$383.3 million] in revenue will be generated for Hong Kong with every 1.5 million visitors.

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

He added the city’s “Financial Mega Event Week” was a focal point last week, with three major summits held, as well as business lunches and seminars, to bring together more than 1,000 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 events over “Art March”, including Art@Victoria Harbour, the International Cultural Summit, ComplexCon, Art Basel and Art Central, had also attracted thousands of Hongkongers and visitors.



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