Reimagining Hong Kong’s Tourism Industry
By Giovanni Angelini - Exclusive for 4Hoteliers.com
Tuesday, 14th March 2023

Giovanni Angelini, is a senior and well respected professional within the Hospitality industry world-wide and with a wealth of experiences of over 50 years acquired in 3 Continents, Asia in particular. A former executive and the CEO of the Shangri-La Hotels and ResortsExclusive Feature - 'Reflections, observations, and views on rebuilding confidence and embracing quality tourism'.

The unprecedented disruption to how we travel has created an urgent need to rethink transportation, accommodation, and hospitality for all countries and destinations involved in travel and tourism.

The tourism industry has historically been one of Hong Kong’s most important sources of income, contributing well above five per cent of the city’s GDP and providing numerous employment opportunities.

However, the industry has suffered greatly recently due to the yearlong demonstrations that paralysed part of the city, and the slow response to the pandemic that scared away potential visitors.

Reversing the damage done to Hong Kong’s tourism industry and enhancing its current poor image will take a long time and a lot of effort. That’s why we must act now to show the world what Hong Kong can offer and what it can do.

The Government has recently given much more attention to tourism in Hong Kong, and that’s a positive move, but flashy promotions, slogans, and giveaways are not enough.

More needs to be done. To restore confidence, all related businesses in the industry – from tourism and convention offices to airlines, hotels, retailers, travel agents, main attractions, media, and others – must enhance their hardware and software for the new normal and respond to the latest trends and expectations. In short, we need concrete reasons for travellers and tourists to return.

The recently launched “Hello Hong Kong” campaign aimed at promoting tourism has faced some criticism, and it’s clear that the city should project a stronger message focusing on its unique cultural diversity, culinary richness, efficiency, safety, and more. After several years of lockdowns, people are craving authentic and meaningful experiences when they travel, so a compelling proposition is essential.

Over the past decade, Hong Kong has relied too heavily on one source of tourist arrivals, which is not sustainable in the long term. The need to move from mass to quality tourism is obvious, and the decision is hardly a choice. The city is becoming increasingly expensive, and it’s no longer the shopping haven it once was. In fact, other regional destinations now offer the same or better choices at much lower prices. This will significantly impact the number of arrivals.

To achieve quality tourism, Hong Kong’s present tourism model must be modernised. Quality tourists expect higher standards in both economic and cultural terms, and a well-trained and motivated workforce with a positive attitude is imperative to welcome, serve, and attract them – “hospitality is a people-first business,” after all.

The good news is Hong Kong does have what it takes to regain its dominant position in the global tourism industry. The city is blessed with a unique history and location. Its inhabitants are also exceptionally creative, innovative, and resilient, with a proven track record for turning challenges into opportunities. Overall, it’s an extraordinarily unique place to live, work and visit – one of the best freewheeling places in the world, and definitely not a place of contradictions.

The city’s strengths in financial services, trade, transport, communication, and infrastructure also remain robust and attractive to many. Its country parks and coastal areas, ranging from sandy beaches and rocky foreshores to peaks of almost 1,000 metres, are stunning, and something Hong Kong can proudly promote to foreign visitors.

That said, when seeking to attract quality international travellers, Hong Kong must be more aggressive and focused in its approach. Tourism industry investors and operators must recognise that the behaviour and spending patterns of consumers and travellers have shifted dramatically during the pandemic, and they will only continue to change. Therefore, they should alter their business plans and strategies accordingly.

New competitive facilities, products, services, and attractions must continually be developed to meet the expectations of visitors. Maximising the potential of Hong Kong’s waterfront harbour with better facilities for events, business, and leisure could be a great place to start.

Another ‘low-hanging fruit’ is the creation of a Cultural Centre for year-round musical/theatrical performances and special events. Created in line with what New York and London are offering, this could be one of the best facilities in Asia. Hong Kong can do it.

For several decades, Hong Kong’s tourism industry ranked among the world’s strongest, with high standards resulting in high performance and returns. The wit, grit, passion, and professionalism of the city’s local and foreign workforce made its tourism scene highly enterprising, dynamic, and competitive. Direct competitors were no doubt envious. Past glories, however, cannot be relied upon, and change is inevitable. Hong Kong must react and adapt now to regain its dominant position in the market.

Giovanni Angelini
A 50 year veteran of the Hotel-Hospitality-travel industry with a wealth of experience acquired in 4 Continents, Asia in particular. A long term resident of Hong Kong and Retired Chief Executive Officer of Shangri-La International.

A board member of several large corporations and member of many industry related and quality management organisations. Founder of Angelini Hospitality, providing consultancy and advisory work to developers and hotels-travel-tourism organisations.

Recipient of two Honoris Causa (Doctorate) in Business Administration and in Global Business Leadership, four Lifetime Achievement Awards, the 2006 Corporate Hotelier of the World, Maestro del Lavoro (2014) and of several other recognitions and awards.


Book: Winning Hospitality - Practical advice for sustainable success (Kindle Edition)
In Winning Hospitality, Giovanni Angelini condenses around 60 years of international hospitality experience into tips and advice for hotel operators and owners, senior and young executives, students, teachers, and anyone striving for excellence in the demanding and dynamic world of travel and tourism planning and management.

The text serves as a vital reference for anyone seeking to develop the business activities, teams, brands, skills and hotels necessary to delight guests, customers, employees, and owners alike – today, and for many years to come.

This is strictly an exclusive feature, reprints of this article in any shape or form without prior written approval from 4Hoteliers.com is not permitted.

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