Topic: TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE TOURISM – KEY PROBLEMS AND ISSUES FACING HONG KONG
Unquestionably, Hong Kong is a blessed land where possesses prosperity and most of the elements of being a world class cosmopolitan which has successfully attracted visitors over years, especially from the mainland by emphasising our world-class shopping, dining and other urban attractions (Lam, H., 2004). Despite the flourishing scene of the tourism industry, the volatile tourist markets and growing competition from Southeast Asian countries and neighbouring destinations have posed new challenges to Hong Kong’s tourism industry.
In order to strengthen Hong Kong’s position as a preferable Asian tourist destination, in recent years, Hong Kong government has started paying more attentions to sustainable tourism due to the rising environmental consciousness worldwide and tourists’ growing interests in the new forms of tourism, namely Eco-tourism and Cultural Tourism. Projects and campaigns, such as the development of Hong Kong Wetland Park, the launch of “Cultural Kaleidoscope” and “Nature Kaleidoscope” experience programmes, and publishing tour guidebooks- “Discover Hong Kong Nature” and “Discover Hong Kong by Rail” were introduced to promote green tourism and cultural tourism (GovHK, 2009). These promotion schemes have been launched with the aim to sustain the tourism industry by diversifying the tourism products to cater to the changing and diverse needs of inbound tourist market. Despite the development is on track of continued growth which has aroused tourists’ interests to look at “the other sides” of Hong Kong, many issues are needed to take into consideration due to the complex nature of sustainable tourism and the large number of stakeholders involved in.
There is criticism from public that throughout these schemes, little attention has been paid to develop the tourism as a whole and a truly sustainable one since the schemes are still carried out in a loose manner without a thorough policy. The most significant issues are environmental sustainability and cultural sustainability due to the most recent focus of government on these issues and their importance to the sustainable development.
Country parks and nature reserves make up 40 percent of Hong Kong's total land area of some 1,100 square kilometres (Ling, 2007). Regarding the relative ample resources and the initial success of Wetland Parks, Hong Kong government recognized the green potential in Hong Kong tourism and has aggressively proposed numbers of Green initiatives recently, such as the Lantau North Country Park and Marine Park, Geoparks as well as cycle tracks and mountain bike trails. However, regarding these proposed projects, inadequate concerns have been given to the carrying capacity of these natural resources as well as the cost of construction. It is found that the conservational practices are not carried out in a strict manner as a case in Kam Tin Wetland and Hoi Ha Wan marine reserve, which are two well-known ecological attractions in Hong Kong, were reported in suffering wastage problems (Cheung, 2006). Another typical example is a member of Advisory Council on the Environment opposed to the proposal of Lantau North Country Park concerning the development of transport linkage of Tung Chung Road would damage the ecology of the areas. It aroused conservationists’ concern that government’s overemphasis on bringing in the tourist dollars will keep tourist agencies and residents focused on generating large-scale projects but putting little concern on making low-impact sustainable tourism (Crets, 2006). From the projects being carried out or proposed, it shows government’s interests on large scale investment but not much effort and support given to the details, such as the carrying capacity of the ecological resources. It implies government emphasized on the profit making and...