[photopress:hotels_olympic_horse_events.jpg,full,alignright]Hong Kong is expecting a slump in tourism in August when it hosts the equestrian events for the Beijing Olympics with hotels only half-full and visitor growth down sharply.
This seems to have come as a major surprise to the hoteliers of Hong Kong even though every Olympics, without exception, has overall had an adverse affect on hotel occupation in one way or the other.
Hong Kong spent more than $4 million promoting the events worldwide which suggests the tourist board has lost touch with reality. While it may be true in England that there is a following in most other countries people simply do not go to horse events. At the Australian Olympics you could stroll up to many events without having booked a ticket.
Yet there is another effect. Because of the magical words Olympic Games — and perhaps because of the publicity which has been created to attract people — other travelers plan their visits to avoid being near the Games because of a false feeling that the place will be over-crowded.
Hoteliers say advance bookings for August indicate occupancy of only 50%.
The Hong Kong Tourism Board meanwhile estimates that month-on-month visitor growth will slump to single figures from last year’s 16.9% growth because of the Olympics.
Federation of Hong Kong Hotel Owners Michael Lee said he believed that only 3,000 to 5,000 people would come to Hong Kong specifically to watch the equestrian events — a tiny number in a city that attracts some 30 million visitors a year.
He said, as if it were some sort of revelation, ‘The equestrian events are not a popular sport like soccer.’
No, they are not and other tourists will stay away from Hong Kong fearing overcrowding and high prices.
But all of this was well known. Hong Kong Tourism Board chairman James Tien said tourists normally stayed away from Olympic host cities to avoid crowds, as they did in Sydney in 2000 and again in Athens in 2004. If it was that well known why did the Tourism Board waste $4 million trying to get people to come and watch the unspeakable ride the uneatable over fences? It wonders me.
Source: Bangkok Post