Returning tourists and mega events – “Hong Kong is back,” says HKTB’s Michael Lim

Returning tourists and mega events – “Hong Kong is back,” says HKTB’s Michael Lim

Michael Lim may give you some reasons to visit Hong Kong – at least 80 reasons, these days.

That’s the number of “mega events” the cosmopolitan city on China’s southern coast will see in the first half of the year.

Two weeks ago, Hong Kong’s government pledged to support organizers holding celebrations in the city as officials move to boost tourism since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted almost a year ago.

The result was the green-lighting of 80 “mega events”, spanning the cultural, sporting and financial sectors, which will add to Hong Kong’s already robust calendar of events and festivals.

“It gives you a little perspective of the level of excitement in Hong Kong,” said Lim, Americas director at Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), speaking to PAX Thursday evening (February 8) at toronto’s Charles the place where a “Year of the Dragon” reception, organized with Hong Kong Economic and Commercial Officewas held for about 120 travel partners.

From left (of HKTB): Jorge Lee, sr.  manage - marketing & PR;  Michael Lim, director for the Americas;  Yuen Kan Wong, sr manager, trade marketing;  Carol Lam, Marketing and PR Manager, (Pax Global Media)

The Hong Kong events include an art installation called “Hong Kong Chubby Hearts” by the British fashion designer Anya Hindmarch, which will see floating hearts appear in various locations around Hong Kong for 10 days from Valentine’s Day.

From March 22-24, Hong Kong will play host ComplexCona “festival of the future” of pop culture (held annually in California), which will attract around 30,000 people.

Here is the next one Art Center fair, returns for the first time since 2019. This will overlook Victoria Harbour, showcasing Asian and global artists, with more than 90 participating galleries.

Art Central in Hong Kong Central Harbour.  (Supplied))

Art Basel also returns to Hong Kong this year with a full edition.

From March 28-30, a total of 243 major international galleries will host indoor and outdoor programs Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

“We want to make Hong Kong an art hub,” Lim explained.

Sports are also giving a boost to the city. of Hong Kong Sevensa rugby sevens tournament, returns this April, for example.

Year of the Dragon

Hong Kong started 2024 with a bang – the vibrant city rang in the new year with its biggest ever fireworks display, treating spectators to a dazzling 12-minute display at Victoria Harbour.

Saturday (February 10), the first day of Chinese New Year, a night parade with eyes will return Tsim Sha Tsui, a vibrant shopping and nightlife area in Kowloon.

Glamorous floats and international and local performers, incl Los Angeles Rams Cheerleadersare set to perform at this year’s festive march.

In Chinese culture, the Year of the Dragon is believed to bring growth and success as it embodies strength, courage and resilience.

These three qualities, indeed, reflect the essence of Hong Kong, Lim told attendees last night in his welcome speech.

“Our city, like the mythical dragon, is dynamic, culturally rich and relentlessly progressive. Indeed, Hong Kong is confident, charismatic and resilient,” said Lim.

To set the mood, members of the Toronto base The Wushu Project performed a dragon dance, bringing to life a life-size dragon prop in Carlu, while members of Hong Kong Freestyle Kendama Association shared a balancing act with a ball, using the kendamas, a skill toy consisting of a handle, cup and ball.

Toronto's Wushu Project performs a dragon dance at The Carlu.  (Pax Global Media)

Hong Kong Freestyle Kendama Association.  (Pax Global Media)

“Hong Kong is back”

Hong Kong’s post-COVID tourism revival began last year with “Hello Hong Kong” campaign, which is still running on digital channels in Canada.

Five episodes about Hong Kong experiences are also currently airing on The Weather Network.

In 2023, Hong Kong welcomed 34 million visitors, and of that amount, 209,000 visitors were from Canada, Lim said. PAX.

To put things into perspective, Hong Kong’s arrival numbers surpassed 60 million in pre-pandemic times.

“Hong Kong is back,” Lim said. “We have come a long way. It is still a gradual recovery, there are challenges. But with challenges come opportunities.”

Limited air lift is what’s holding back growth, Lim acknowledged. However, signs of increased capacity and connectivity are on the horizon.

Air CanadaFor example, it recently increased capacity in its Asia-Pacific region network.

The upgrades include up to 11 weekly flights between Vancouver and Hong Kong, and doubling capacity between Canada and Japan (which is about a five-hour flight away from Hong Kong).

From left: Ivy Young, Rocky Lo, Air Canada.  (Pax Global Media)

Cathay Pacificwhich has kept Canadians connected to Asia for more than 40 years, offers non-stop flights from Vancouver and Toronto to Hong Kong.

The link between Canada and Hong Kong can also be found at EVA Air AND China Airlines.

Lim said HKTB is looking to expand its partnerships with operators so that Hong Kong can be included in more networks.

HKTB recently hosted a FAM for tour operators, and from this came a renewed enthusiasm to package Hong Kong in new and inspiring ways.

“We’re looking at new experiences, from culinary to traditional shopping to outdoors and culture,” said Lim. “Hong Kong has a wealth of experiences, we have something for everyone.”

HKTB’s “Night Vibes in Hong Kong” campaign is now breathing new life into the city’s nightlife scene.

Visitors going to Hong Kong soon and interested in getting one Handles Hong Kong nights from HKTB (to the value of HKD100) can visit an HKTB Visitor Center in the city, Lim said.

Multi-destination tourism

Multi-destination tourism is a key part of Lim’s strategy for Canada. The tourism board plans to promote routes connecting Hong Kong with other destinations, such as Japan OR Thailand.

(PAX we experienced this exciting style of travel in 2018 when we joined Hong Kong Taiwanwhich is less than a two-hour flight away).

“The average Canadian who goes this far usually visits two or three destinations,” Lim said. “The magic of Hong Kong is that it is a hub.”

Always something new

In a diverse city of nearly 7.5 million people, there’s always something new to unpack in Hong Kong.

Some of the city’s new and improved attractions include Hong Kong Palace Museum IN West Kowloon Cultural Districtthe new sixth generation Peak Tram, Ocean World Water Park and extended coastal promenades.

Hong Kong is blinding at night.  (Pax Global Media/file photo)

And seriously, the city’s art scene isn’t slowing down.

From March 16 to April 7, the West Kowloon District Cultural Authority will hold its inauguration WestK FunFest, featuring three weeks of family activities, incl Harborside Lawn of the Art Park, Freespace AND Xiqu Center.

There is also what should not be missed M+, Asia’s first global museum of contemporary visual culture, in the West Kowloon Cultural District. It has new commissions and a cinema program for the third year since opening in November 2021.

And, oh, don’t forget to visit Temple Street, a decorated neighborhood known for its night market, which was recently revitalized. It’s a perfect portrait of Hong Kong nightlife.

“As we stand here tonight, let us embody the spirit of the dragon,” Lim told guests last night at The Carlu. “Let us continue our friendship in the years to come, a friendship like the mighty dragon – full of life, dignity, energy and power!”

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