Packages fuel the city

Some 628,500 tourists travelled to the city on package tours in the month of March, a growth of 11.7 per cent year-on-year, attributable to those from Mainland China and South Korea, official data released last Friday by the Statistics and Census Services (DSEC) shows.
During the month, 77.2 per cent of package tour visitors were from the mainland, amounting to some 478,600, a rebounding increase of 9.9 per cent year-on-year. In addition, those from South Korea hit 39,100, surging by 65.4 per cent year-on-year, and outpacing Taiwan to be the city’s second largest source of package tour visitors.
Nevertheless, the city also saw the number of package tour visitors from Taiwan post an increase to 35,500 during the month, up by 11.2 per cent. Those from Japan and Hong Kong, meanwhile, rose by 13.7 per cent and 8.9 per cent year-on-year, amounting to 15,100 and 15,200, respectively.
While there were also more visitors from South East Asia – namely Thailand and Malaysia – visiting the MSAR on package tours in the month, those from India dropped by 11.9 per cent year-on-year to some 5,000.
Accumulatively, a total of 1.71 million package tour visitors travelled to the MSAR in the first quarter of the year, of which those from Mainland China fell by 2.3 per cent year-on-year to 1.29 million, but those from South Korea surged by 45.7 per cent year-on-year to 131,900.

Outbound travel drops slightly
On the other hand, the month saw fewer local residents travelling outside the city using services of travel agencies, with the number falling by 0.9 per cent year-on-year to 106,400.
In particular, outbound travels to Hong Kong and Taiwan dropped by 21.1 per cent and 19.9 per cent year-on-year, amounting to 14,800 and 9,900. In addition, those to Japan also decreased by 3.3 per cent year-on-year to some 4,200, whereas those to Malaysia plunged by 44.3 per cent year-on-year to some 600.
In fact, Mainland China was the hottest destination, attracting some 59,400 outbound travellers from the MSAR, an increase of 4.7 per cent year-on-year.
Meanwhile, those travelling to Thailand under agency services surged by 59.2 per cent year-on-year to 3,800, while those to South Korea increased by 8 per cent year-on-year to 7,700.
However, outbound travel from the MSAR recorded an increase of 6.4 per cent year-on-year in the same period, totalling 333,400. Again, Mainland China attracted the majority of travellers, amounting to 188,800, up by 14.5 per cent year-on-year. In addition, those travelling to South Korea and Thailand soared by 59.7 per cent and 83.3 per cent year-on-year, hitting 27,300 and 11,200, respectively.

Hotels receive more guests
The increase in the number of package tour visitors also drove up occupancy at local hotels, which saw average occupancy rates go up by 5.2 percentage points year-on-year in the first quarter of the year to 83 per cent.
A total of 3.05 million guests checked in to local hotels during the three months, up by 13.7 per cent year-on-year.
In particular, five-star hotels saw their occupancy rise 5.4 percentage points year-on-year to 84.5 per cent during the three months, the highest occupancy among all hotel categories.
Three-star hotels also saw their occupancy increase 5.2 percentage points year-on-year to 80.9 per cent, and four-star hotels rose 4 percentage points year-on-year to 83.5 per cent.
According to the DSEC, there were 108 hotels and guesthouses operating in the MSAR as at the end of March, providing a total of 36,400 guest rooms, an increase of 13.1 per cent year-on-year.