Hong Kong's Tourism Industry

Hong Kong is a former British colony that is now a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. Hong Kong tourism figures reached a record high of 48.6 million in 2012, an increase of 16 per cent from 2011. Of those, nearly 72 per cent came from Mainland China. The Hong Kong Tourism Board markets Hong Kong as 'Asia's World City.'


Hong Kong has a population of around seven million in an area of only 426 square miles. This population density has led to extensive high-rise construction, with over a thousand skyscrapers, located mainly on the north of Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon. While this crowded metropolitan area is often perceived as Hong Kong, the territory includes areas of countryside in the New Territories and over two hundred islands. Much of this land is hilly and mountainous, and nearly half is made up of nature reserves and country parks. There is very little agriculture, and most food is imported. Hong Kong has the highest levels of public transport use in the world, and its extensive network of railways, buses and ferries makes it extremely easy for visitors to travel around.

Visitor Attractions

The whole city can be considered an attraction, since when promoting Hong Kong tourism the image that is generally used is the skyline of Hong Kong Island, but there are some places that particularly attract visitors. The most popular is The Peak, the tallest mountain on Hong Kong Island. This is reached by a funicular railway, the Peak Tram. The top of the mountain has gardens, restaurants and shops and is a popular place for visitors wanting a bird's eye view of the city skyline and Victoria Harbour. There are several amusement parks. Ocean Park is the most visited and has the highest attendance of all theme parks in the Greater China region, with over 7.5 million visitors in 2012, half of which came from mainland China. Opened in 1977, the park stands in the Southern District of Hong Kong. It is a marine park that runs conservation and education programmes, and includes giant pandas, marine mammals and aquariums as well as amusement rides.

In 2005 Hong Kong Disneyland Resort was opened at Penny's Bay on Lantau Island. It was a joint venture between the Hong Kong Government and the Disney Corporation and is the second Disney resort in Asia; the first was in Tokyo. After several years of running at a loss, the park made a profit in 2012 and attracted 6.7 million visitors. The park's success may not last, though, as the majority of its visitors come from mainland China, which is due to have its own, larger, Shanghai Disneyland in 2015. The city has several government-run museums, including the Hong Kong Museum of Art and the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. One of the most famous racecourses in the world, the Happy Valley Racecourse, lies in the centre of Hong Kong Island and is a popular attraction with both visitors and locals. It includes an archive and museum.

British Legacy

Despite exchanging British control for Chinese sovereignty in 1997, Hong Kong remains a city-state with a high degree of autonomy. It does not follow the political system of the People's Republic of China but retains its own government, with an independent judiciary based on English law. It also has a high degree of economic freedom and remains a global financial centre. English remains the official language of Hong Kong, along with Chinese, although the colonial name of Hong Kong's capital, Victoria, has been changed to Central. Many architectural traces of British rule remain, including the iconic Clock Tower, Government House and the Old Supreme Court Building.

Local Culture

The crowded streets of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island have many bustling street markets, restaurants and food stalls which draw tourists. The areas of Ladies' Market and Temple Street Night Market are particularly popular with visitors. Temples stand on nearly every street. Notable ones are the Wong Tai Sin Temple, in Kowloon, which combines Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism in one spectacularly decorated building, and the Ching Chung Koon temple in the new territories that contains relics from the imperial Forbidden City.


Several annual festivals bring increased tourism, including the Hong Kong Arts Festival, held in February, and the Hong Kong International Film Festival in March and April. The Chinese New Year is celebrated with fireworks and parades, and a spectacular Dragon Boat Carnival is held in Victoria Harbour. Many visitors come for the yearly Rugby Sevens tournament, and several large sporting events have been held in the city, including the V East Asian Games in 2009 and part of the 2008 Summer Olympics.