x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Mice time for Hong Kong to squeak in

The Hing Kong government has committed US$150 million to promote the the Mice (meetings, incentive travels, conventions and exhibitions) industry over the next five years.

Hong Kong lures tourists from all over the world . Scott Eells / Bloomberg News
Hong Kong lures tourists from all over the world . Scott Eells / Bloomberg News

Hong Kong is the quintessential business city.

As the gateway to China and, some would say, Asia's most dynamic financial hub, the back-room wheeling and dealing is legendary.

While the highs and lows of its property sector are often in the spotlight, it is tourism that is the big earner for Hong Kong.

Last year, the industry contributed HK$287.6 billion (Dh136.26bn) to the economy, or 15.2 per cent of total GDP, Visa said in its Tourism Outlook: Hong Kong report in June.

And with more than 44 million visitor arrivals forecast for this year, it's no surprise that Hong Kong continues to lure tourists with its unique fusion of East and West.

Tourists may flock to Hong Kong for attractions such as the Star Ferry, which has plied its route between Hong Kong Island and Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon since 1888, or to wander the winding back streets of Peng Chau, a small, car-free island off Lantau, accompanied by the clatter of mah-jong tiles in the background.

But it is the Mice (meetings, incentive travels, conventions and exhibitions) industry that the government has set its sights on, committing US$150 million (Dh550.9m) to promote the sector over the next five years.

It has some tough competitors - such as nearby Singapore - but the Hong Kong Tourist Board (HKTB) says that there were 1.56 million overnight Mice visitors to the city last year, up 9.3 per cent on 2010.

It helps that Hong Kong has a reputation as one of Asia's food capitals and it remains a great place to shop. But it is its transparency and ease of doing business that have helped to put it on the highly competitive Mice map.

"Notwithstanding the volatile global economy in 2012, a number of mega Mice events have been confirmed to take place in the city this year, which will bring a considerable number of visitors," says the HKTB.

"The HKTB projects that the number of Mice arrivals will increase by about 10 per cent year-on-year."

fglover@thenational.ae