Hong Kong Retailers Anticipate Lucrative Christmas Season
Already in full swing, and running through January 1, 2012, Hong Kong WinterFest once again bridges the gap between two major holidays — one Eastern and the other Western — Christmas and Chinese New Year. Held each winter, this year’s WinterFest includes two themed areas located at Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, letting revelers enjoy attractions like a Tiffany & Co. Christmas tree and carousel at Status Square and Sino Group’s “Ice Wonderland” ice-skating rink. Also scheduled for the month-long event are activities like the Asia Game Show and “Fantastic Christmas Eve” Gala.
In recent years, WinterFest has attracted a growing number of visitors from mainland China, many of whom are looking to get in a little cultural tourism in in between shopping sprees. In addition to WinterFest, over the next two months many Hong Kong retailers will also be rolling out promotions aimed primarily at mainland Chinese tourist-shoppers, who continue to flock to Hong Kong in record numbers to take advantage of a strengthening yuan.
According to China Momentum (中国时刻网), tour operators throughout mainland China are currently offering Christmas-themed specials for these tourist-shoppers, which have proven popular with travelers from far-flung provinces like Inner Mongolia, Guangxi and Hebei. China Momentum notes that most of these “Christmas” tourists stay in Hong Kong for five to seven days.
As one mainland Chinese tourist-shopper from Nanning told China Momentum, her city’s proximity to Hong Kong means she takes shopping trips to the former British colony at the end of the year, looking to take advantage of its better range of international brands and holiday discounts. As the tourist pointed out, the exchange rate between the yuan and Hong Kong dollar is roughly equivalent to a 20 percent discount on each purchase, making shopping in Hong Kong, particularly for luxury goods and cosmetics, a comparative bargain.
Though Christmas is not an officially celebrated holiday in China, for many it’s becoming a good excuse for a Hong Kong shopping excursion. According to the Hong Kong Tourism Board, this means popular hotels have recorded much higher occupancy rates at this time of year. The Tourism Board said this week that occupancy rates in destinations popular with mainland Chinese tourist-shoppers, such as Mongkok, Tsim Sha Tsui, Yau Ma Tei, Causeway Bay and Lantau Island have reached upwards of 60 percent, with hotels responding to booming demand by raising prices 20-30 percent.