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Travel / Tourism


Hong Kong Outbound Tourism Data




2014 (est.)

2015 (est.)

Total Departures by residents (million)


86 (est.)



Departures for the U.S. (‘000)





International Tourism Expenditure of residents (US$ billion)





Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

Hong Kong is unique in the outbound source travel market. It not only has a significant outbound travel market of its own, but also serves as an important platform to tap into China’s and other Asian countries’ growing outbound travel markets. Hong Kong ranked as the 4th largest outbound market in Asia and 14th in the world in terms of international tourism expenditure, according to UNWTO. There are five major reasons behind this phenomenon: (1) Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, with an overall density of 6,620 people per square kilometer. Since there is also a general lack of local recreational options, Hong Kong people often choose to spend their holidays outside of Hong Kong; (2) Hong Kong people have high spending power. Hong Kong’s GPD per capita ranked the 3rd highest in Asia; (3) Hong Kong’s geographical location and excellent transportation infrastructure allow for relatively easy travel abroad; (4) Most people in Hong Kong speak English and hold the Special Administrative Region (SAR) passport, which does not require visas to visit over 140 countries and regions in the world; and (5) Most importantly, the Hong Kong government controls neither its people nor foreign exchange from leaving the territory. Due to these factors, the number of Hong Kong residents traveling around the region and abroad for business and pleasure continues to rise. However, according to BMI’s outbound tourism data, many of those departures (96.5 percent) are for mainland China, Macau and other nearby Asian destinations. Therefore, within Hong Kong alone, there lies good potential for promoting U.S. tourism.

In addition, Hong Kong plays a key role for international tour operators and other businesses seeking to access the soaring Chinese and other Asian countries’ outbound travel market. First, Hong Kong is strategically located at the heart of the Asian continent. It is within five hours’ flight from most cities in Asia. Hong Kong is less than two hours’ drive from the Pearl River Delta, one of the most developed regions in China. This proximity gives Hong Kong instant access to the affluent consumer market, with 120 million people in southern China alone. Second, Hong Kong's Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) with China gives Hong Kong-based travel companies preferential treatment in China. Finally, Hong Kong’s world class integrated transportation infrastructure can better facilitate outbound travel. In Hong Kong, there are over 100 airlines operating about 1,000 flights per day to 180 destinations worldwide, including 44 cities in mainland China. For these reasons, many Asian travelers, especially those from mainland China transit through Hong Kong.

Sub-Sector Best Prospects

1. Fixed itinerary tours for groups

2. Prepaid package tours for free individual travelers (FIT)

3. Visiting Relatives & Friends (VRF)

4. Meeting, Incentive, Conference and Exhibition (MICE)

5. Cruises


Hong Kong citizens tend to travel during public holidays such as Chinese Lunar New Year, Easter and Christmas because an average worker only has 10-14 days of annual leave. The traveling seasons usually occur around these public holidays as well as the summer holidays. The summer months of June, July and August on average account for 30 percent of Hong Kong outbound travelers to the United States. In mainland China, travel peaks during the Golden Weeks, two annual 7-day national holidays. One is the "Spring Festival (or Chinese Lunar New Year) Golden Week" which begins in January or February. The other is the "National Day Golden Week" which begins around October 1.

Various published statistics indicate that Free Independent Travel (FIT) travel accounts for a significant portion of Hong Kong and mainland China outbound travels. However, travelers from Hong Kong and China prefer to join packaged tours when visiting a destination for the first time to a new destination. First-time travelers to the region want to see as many places as possible and cover multiple-destinations in one trip. Package tours offer precisely that: a set, “packaged” itinerary covering several destinations. Wine country tours have become very popular especially among the Chinese travel market. Other specialty tours for diving, golfing, horseback riding and skiing have also been quite successful. Shopping is also an important theme for many outbound Hong Kong and mainland tourists. U.S. destinations may wish to incorporate shopping into their product offerings.

Cruises are also becoming increasingly popular. Hong Kong currently has two cruise ship terminals, Ocean Terminal and the newly opened Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, which together have four berths for cruise ships to dock. The Kai Tak Cruise Terminal welcomed its first ship on June 12, 2013. As of July 18, 2014, 28 ships are scheduled to berth at the Kai Tak Cruise terminal for a total of 50 days in 2014 and increase to 52 ships with a total of 72 days in 2015. Cruise suppliers from Florida, California, Alaska or Hawaii should consider this opportunity and introduce cruise products in Hong Kong.

Web Resources

China International Travel Mart (CITM) 2014
Date: November 14-16, 2014
Venue: Shanghai, China
Organizers: China National Tourism Administration & Shanghai Municipal People’s Government
Website: http://www.citm.com.cn/english/index.aspx

Guangzhou International Travel Fair
Date: March 6–8, 2015
Venue: Pazhou Exhibition Center, Guangzhou, China
Organizer: Hannover Fairs China Ltd., Guangzhou Office
Contact: Ms. Iris Han
Tel: (+86-20) 8626 6696-8008
Fax: (+86-20) 8626 6690
Email: Iris.han@hmf-china.com
Website: http://www.gitf.com.cn

ITE 2015 – International Travel Expo Hong Kong
Date: June 11 – 14, 2015
Venue: Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Center (HKCEC), Hong Kong
Organizer: TKS Exhibition Services Ltd.
Tel: (852) 3155-0600
Fax: (852) 3520-1500
Website: http://www.itehk.com

Hong Kong Immigration Department

Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2807-1199
Fax: (852) 2510-9907
Website: http://www.tichk.org

U.S. Commercial Service Hong Kong

For more information, contact our colleague who covers this industry sector:

Contact: Ms. Kimmy Lee, Commercial Specialist
U.S. Commercial Service Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2521-1467
Fax: (852) 2845-9800
Email: kimmy.lee@trade.gov
Website: http://export.gov/hongkong

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