Still room for at least 40 million more

Hong Kong’s officials forecast tourist numbers will rise to over 60 million this year. Yet they whine that visitors are staying for ever-shorter periods. And publicly-subsidized Disneyland makes a loss yet again (HK$345 million – peanuts compared with the billions in land value and opportunity costs the white-elephant Mouse has swallowed).

It seems the more tourists we cram into Hong Kong, the more trouble the industry is in. And that makes perfect sense: tourism is undermining itself.

The obsession with tourist numbers arose from an obsession with Mainlanders-as-buyers-of-luxury-crap hoovering up Euro-trash brands and enriching the city’s landlords. As Mainlanders move on to more sophisticated vacationing, visitors are on average staying for less time and spending less – but all the tourism sector can think up is increasing throughput or adding increasingly desperate ‘attractions’.

Meanwhile, Hongkongers with sense, taste and a few days to spare head off to Taiwan or Japan. They are mostly not going for phony, culturally alien theme parks or tourist magnets (though some exist). They are not going to buy overpriced junk. Many are not even drawn specifically by scenic countryside or historic sites (though both countries have them). They go because they are nice places.

The transport is great. The food is great. The environment is clean, quiet, safe and pleasant – genuine communities with relaxed people enjoying a high quality of life in accordance with their own standards and customs. They are nice to live in, and as a result they are nice to visit.

All Hong Kong’s greedy, parasitical tourism industry and frenzied bureaucrats know is pushing up landlords’ rents and developers’ profits. And that means eradicating street markets and street food, and local stores, and replacing them with malls, malls and more sterile malls.

Having swamped Central and Sheung Wan with Koreans promised a fake ‘Old Town’ experience, officials are now set on wrecking poor Shamshuipo. After replacing the old hardware stores and groceries with international ice-cream, cake, perfumed-candle and other chains, the slash-and-burn tourism industry will move on to pulverize and ethnically cleanse another neighbourhood into a concept-theme-zone-hub.

Obviously, the ‘tourism’ lobby couldn’t care less that they are wrecking Hong Kong as a place for the city’s own (irrelevant) people to live in. But they’re so dumb, they’re wrecking it as a place worth visiting, and ultimately being a landlord in. The only silver lining: the selfie-snapping guidebook-obeying North Asian zombies will probably finally go away.

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7 Responses to Still room for at least 40 million more

  1. Stanley Lieber says:

    “They go because they are nice places.”

    A penetrating analysis that is right on the mark.

  2. I sent the Tourist Association my blueprint for a LEAVE A DAY EARLIER campaign and heard nothing about it.

    It seems to be working anyway.

    But you can’t hang on to Hong Kong, dear.

    1. It doesn’t belong to you.
    2. Hong Kong people are largely greedy Philistine opportunists intent on squeezing everything for the last dollar.
    3. Er…
    4. That’s it!

  3. Chinese Netizen says:

    So with such a pining for nostalgia like “Olde Towne Central”, will we start seeing more Union Jacks…(actor) coppers in summer khaki shorts…Her Majesty’s mail boxes?

  4. Sojourner says:

    “Hong Kong people are largely greedy Philistine opportunists intent on squeezing everything for the last dollar.”

    Despite the countless decades you’ve self-pityingly frittered your life away in Hong Kong, Adams, I get the feeling the number of “Hong Kong people” you know well can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Your trolling leaves an increasingly unpleasant taste in the mouth.

  5. pie-chucker says:

    As a model/actor in the late 70s, I was often cast as the colonial copper.

    On location in a village in the NT, a Toyota Hi-Ace as my ‘trailer’ (well, the only trailer for a cast of many), I was urged into action by the production assistant, Katty. This ATV drama was being shot on the fly, the script scribbled just ahead of the scene.

    Two light-weight heavies were coming down the track tapping the flat side of melon knives in their hands, evidently intent on tea money. Katty told me to confront them.

    Is this a new scene?

    No, local triads. Frighten them away.

    How?

    With your uniform.

    So in shorts, long socks and puttees, with a moustache and gweilo scowl, the miscreants turned tail.

    So, I’m rather looking forward to the ‘Olde Towne’ revival. Work, at last, again.

  6. Hermes says:

    “Meanwhile, Hongkongers with sense, taste and a few days to spare head off to Taiwan or Japan….. They go because they are nice places.” You hit the nail on the head. You can also add Korea to that list.

    Yes the ‘tourism’ lobby couldn’t care less that they are wrecking Hong Kong as a place worth visiting, and ultimately being a landlord in – especially when the board is headed by a tycoon with retail interests and there is no-one with vision or imagination there.

  7. Din Gao says:

    @Pie-Chucker

    Ah, the Good Old Days; triads armed with melon knives, for minor education.
    Then there were the beef knives and the cargo hooks, for more serious enforcement.
    And not forgetting the ice pick, the triangular file and the baseball bat.
    Mostly with handles taped for a better grip and the elimination of fingerprints.
    All legal to possess, but lethal in the hands of triads…

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