Friday, 29 March 2013

Short Shifting Chinese, Short Sighted

One of the few blue sky days Hong Kong had a few weekends ago...
We aren't surprised by the latest "Tourism Satisfaction Index" that finds mainlanders are the only group not satisfied with Hong Kong as a holiday destination.

The annual index is compiled by the Polytechnic University's school of hotel and tourism management.

For mainland Chinese, accommodation was the most worrying aspect, and rated Hong Kong a new low of 66 points out of 100, while the rest of the world pushed up the city's annual score to a record high of 75.

Following accommodation, other mainland tourist concerns in order were immigration, then restaurants, shopping and attractions. Transportation scored the highest.

Meanwhile, Americans were most happy with Hong Kong, though Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese and Macanese tourists were the least happy with the city in terms of tourism.

And why are mainlanders worried about accommodation? Because they have heard some horror stories of low-budget tour groups staying in lesser-quality hotels -- or in a more recent case -- in a bus -- because the travel agency claimed they could not get any hotel rooms, when in fact it never tried to secure any, and tried to cheat the travelers of their money.

There is an uneasy relationship between Hong Kong and China, with the former depending on the latter for tourism dollars, because well, we need the money. And then there are all the cultural differences we have mentioned before, not only language, but also etiquette and morals.

However, Hong Kong people's superiority complex doesn't mean they should cheat all mainland tourists -- this is short-term thinking on the part of tour agencies and the government should be cracking down on these nefarious organizations.

The city cannot afford to have a bad reputation, even among mainlanders. We should be taking the high road and showing them how an international city like Hong Kong is run, and why it is on par with places like New York, London and Paris.

For example, according to the index, mainlanders most like the transportation network in Hong Kong. While they are paying many times more than what they do back home, they see the cleanliness, efficiency and convenience of using public transport, particularly the MTR, that they don't mind the cost.

So why cheat them and lock them in a jewellery store and force them to drop thousands of yuan, or not even give them hotel rooms?

Which is why some educated young mainlanders prefer to speak in English to ensure they get decent if not better service.

If one of the Hong Kong government's main aims is to foster more integration with the mainland, creating a better impression of the city would be a good start. Otherwise the city is going to lose its aspirational status and become just like any other Chinese city...

We don't want that now, do we?

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