Last year it was the hand-over (from British rule to Chinese), this year it's the Asian economic crisis. Hong Kong has faced challenges of late assuring travelers that things are stable.
"Last year we had 10.4 million visitors, this year it's about 10 million," says Douglas Gautier, deputy executive director, Hong Kong Tourist Association. "But that still puts us as the number-one destination in Asia by a country mile."
Not that the former British colony is satisfied with that. Investment in infrastructure, like the new airport that opened in July, is critical, Gautier says. The new airport means more room for charter flights and for flights to secondary cities in China, both important developments for incentives. Other investment has created a cruise center, theme parks, performance centers, and expanded public access to the harbor front.
The Asian economic crisis and the slowdown in travel to Asia have triggered some serious price-chopping in Hong Kong--a boon to meeting and incentive planners. "Pricing needed to be re-evaluated. That's been a healthy development," Gautier says.
"In the past 12 months there's been a little disenchantment with Asia," he continues. "But the calendar looks good. Things have settled down. We're open for business and the price is right." --Alison Hall