What is a ‘Jetso’ anyway?


To most Hong Kong residents, less tourism means relief from crowds and retail market distortions. But to the government and its friends, the recent pattern of declining tourist numbers is a cause for alarm.

SCMP-PromotionalThe response: a hyped-up exciting promotion! Commerce Secretary Greg So does his hunky sex-symbol act and unveils the ‘HAPPY@Hongkong Super JETSO’ campaign. According to the official blurb, 10,000 merchants will be offering special deals in order to encourage locals and tourists to Spend Spend Spend.

As you might suspect from the campaign’s ‘HAPPY@Hongkong Super JETSO’ name, this is desperate and tawdry. Cosmetics chain Sa Sa will give out HK$30 coupons to customers spending over HK$100. Some restaurants are offering ‘buy two, get one’ deals on buffets.

No wonder Greg looks uneasy. This is downright tacky. The very phrase ‘coupons’ brings to mind visions of welfare mothers cutting little squares out of newspapers. Who – in a developed, high-tech, First World, services-based economy – will buy some everyday and unremarkable item because it’s 15% off? Fifteen percent? It’s an insult. Do we really look that impoverished? As the moderate voice of reason tells the Standard, an ice cream in exchange for going to (indeed, spending money in) Times Square is ‘not really attractive’…


…as in ‘that is as enticing as a pile of dog droppings’.

To put this in context, chains of watch shops with several branches on the same street are trimming back operations. I would love to believe the anti-smuggling protests are responsible, but bigger forces are at play. Exchange-rate changes and China’s anti-corruption clampdown for a start. Possibly a gradual change in tastes, as Mainlanders start to graduate from the ‘rich-peasant’ phase of high-profile garish consumerism and move onto something more refined. And also, not least, over-expansion by the luxury-goods industry, mesmerized by the promise of a billion Chinese all eager to buy putrid-looking Stan-CityChainoverpriced rubbish with stupid European names. There has to be a limit. How many Jaegar-LeCoultre, Longchamp Louboutins does an idiot from Shanghai really need?

Finally, the laws of supply and demand really start to bite when greasy-haired Mr Hong Kong Landlord, drunk on the flood of fast easy quick money money money, slaps one zero too many on the latest rent-hike. The guy suddenly faces the unthinkable inhumanity of empty premises for which no-one will offer HK$300,000 a month, for some inexplicable reason.

Ultimately, this is what Hong Kong’s ‘tourism’ industry – also sometimes known as the ‘retail’ industry – is about: rents. It’s actually the landlord industry. This is the ‘HAPPY@Hongkong Super WHACK RENTS UP’ campaign.

But… Even by the standards of HK Tourism Board activities, this promotion has an exceptional lameness about it. My hunch is that someone, somewhere is growing weary of the ‘tourism’ cult. (Maybe Beijing’s local Liaison Office? They see public resentment of Mainland shoppers as a threat to the motherland. And they know the Central Government is serious about corruption and money laundering, and happy to see Macau casinos’ revenues plummet.)

The hapless look on Greg So’s face. The unfathomably, gut-wrenchingly atrocious ‘HAPPY@Hongkong Super JETSO’ theme concept title and branding. The officials seem to be going through the motions of ‘boosting tourism’ here, with little enthusiasm save for the chance to have another dig at the horrific damage done by pro-dem and anti-locust protests. The retailers themselves show every sign of having been roped into this by bossy bureaucrats. When you’re paying the likes of Jimmy Tang HK$300,000 a month for 300 square feet, offering meaningful discounts is a non-starter. The whole thing looks like a way to shut the landlords up, and pretend you’re trying to keep rent-rises going for all eternity, as we enter the inevitable post-Mainlander Luxury Crap Mega-Boom era and go back to the days of 2011 or so when you have only one branch of Sa Sa every 100 yards.

I declare the weekend open with some advice: if you must go out and spend money, I can recommend this stuff…


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18 Responses to What is a ‘Jetso’ anyway?

  1. oldgit says:

    Rental yields will rise with interest rates and after 7 years of easy money, retail landlords will discover that their bankers are the landlords

  2. Scotty Dotty says:

    Brilliant. Nail. Head. Hit.

    “Ultimately, this is what Hong Kong’s ‘tourism’ industry – also sometimes known as the ‘retail’ industry – is about: rents. It’s actually the landlord industry.”

  3. Cassowary says:

    Assuming that was a real question, this is what a “jetso” is:

    And when has the Hong Kong government ever done a branding campaign that wasn’t “unfathomably, gut-wrenchingly atrocious?” Remember the diced chicken dragon logo? The comically lame handover commemoration pop anthem?

  4. Oneleggoalie says:

    Thank you for not mentioning Ocean Park…they are offering “selfies” with a picture of a kangaroo on the poster…

    Presumably…it is the chance to take selfies with animals which otherwise would be free to live a normal life…or shot at by drunk Australians.

    This surely ties in with the cringe-inducing “Jestso” government campaign.

    Knowing The Nose…dolphins will suffer petting sessions by disease-carrying undead from the mainland.

    Bring back the ovens.

  5. anon says:

    At last? Wake-up call for property speculators? Pocket-emptying by mortgage banksters? And afterwards?

  6. NIMBY says:

    Jetso = more landfill, but with fewer plastic bags. Jetso is a smoke screen that hides the real issue. Our landfills are not filling up with plastic bags, but with the crap beings stuffed into them. Our harbour shores are just a full of plastic bottle and other flotsam as ever.

    BTW, Apple HK is the only market in the Appletard universe of official stores that does not openly offer trade-in/recycling of their products even if they do charge more here that in the USA where they do offer recycling. This is the real spirit of HK retailing – f*ck while they cue, then drop a load in their back yard.

  7. Laguna Lurker says:

    Cassowary has the right answer, but the romanisation/PinYin used by his source is bewildering to those unfamiliar with the scheme. The closest approximation to the actual sound in Cantonese should be “je(r)k so”.

  8. reductio says:

    I’m not sure there is anything unusual in the “special deals” being offered to tourists being decidedly unspecial. I keep getting bombarded by HSBC (“The World’s Local Money Launderer”) with ads telling me that I have HK$950,000 dollars available for a drawdown on my credit card. But Wait! If I do it now not only will I not pay interest for two months I will, drumroll, get a $100 cash rebate.

  9. Knownot says:

    “Who – in a developed, high-tech, First World, services-based economy – will buy some everyday and unremarkable item because it’s 15% off? Fifteen percent?”

    The supermarkets are full of such people. (Some of them may read this blog.)

    * * * * * * * *

    ” Remember the … comically lame handover commemoration pop anthem?”

    I remember that some hotels were offering special drinks at a price of nineteen dollars and ninety-seven cents. It was very amusing.

  10. Cassowary says:

    Jyutping romanisation is weird, but it’s very logical once you get used to it. Also, I am a “her”.

    Have you seen the old people standing outside Park N’ Shop and Wellcome collecting freebie booklet stickers from people? They fill the booklet, exchange it for the pointless suitcase/set of pans/toaster oven and then turn around and sell it to people who couldn’t collect enough stickers themselves but still wanted the item. I didn’t realize there was so much demand for that pointless crap, but there must be a reason for the roaring business in storage lockers.

  11. Chinese Netizen says:

    HK government backed “campaigns”. So fucking funny that they’re not.

  12. Paul says:

    The “Big Wave Bay” tastes much better, but they are all good.

  13. Good to see Dragon’s Back back – now if the brewery would only revive Crooked Island as well, there might still be hope for Hong Kong’s future. That was a brew and a half.

  14. Stinkyfoot says:

    I appreciate Reductio’s comment. The Pirate bank has been inundating me for many months to take out million dollar loans, I assume to place on our HK Casino stock-market. A 15% discount was what we use to haggle about in the markets. I remember when Wing-on, if you asked, would give you 10% no problem. What is more troubling (besides the great rentier scam) is that now, the bastion of post-colonial Higher Ed–aka HKU– will now require (as in compulsory) that all students spend time in the PRC. Must be a honey trail here to revenue strapped PRC Unis, or will HK taxpayers be on the hook for ‘patriotic’ indocrination?

  15. Stinkyfoot says:

    As an aside, re: Article 23, Perhaps your readers would like to see this new initiative on the mainland. Benny Tai’s ‘let’s pass article 23 because then we will have freer elections’ idiocy.
    Read this Orwellian nightmare may be yours HK’ers.

  16. Joe Blow says:

    Did you know that….Vagina, Bunny Chan (yes ! our Bunny) and Christine Loh are all included in the 2015 Tatler Magazine List of most Outstanding, Special, Impressive, VIP, SaSa Gold Card, Supreme, busty, Chanel Discount Program, Dazzling, May-I-kiss- you-ring ? ‘Brilliant Entities’ ?

    I sh*t you not.

    I forgot who were in the category “Most Promising Young Couple” but I would like to nominate Maria Tam and her ‘Giant Gladiator’ dildo for next year.

  17. gumshoe says:

    Hemlock, I’ve been drinking the HK brewery stuff for a few months and the India Pale Ale is definitely… not bad. Especially price wise compared to imports. the Sevens stout is also worth picking up.

  18. Kilgore Trout says:

    Psst… Crooked Island is back. It’s a cask ESB. Check the Globe.

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