Focusing on the backpacker section could also be an efficient technique of diversifying Hong Kong’s tourism market and selling sustainable tourism, in line with Dr Wantanee Suntikul, Dr Denis Tolkach, Dr Elizabeth Agyeiwaah (Ph.D. graduate) and Mr Ching-Nok Lung (BSc graduate) of the College of Resort and Tourism Administration (SHTM) at The Hong Kong Polytechnic College. In a just lately revealed article, the researchers revealed that, in line with survey outcomes, “backpackers are pushed by the seek for new concepts and pulled by the distinctive meals tradition of Hong Kong”. Vacation spot entrepreneurs within the metropolis also needs to bear in mind that backpackers usually tend to help the native financial system than different varieties of vacationers, lots of whom go to due to its fame as a world purchasing vacation spot.
Till very just lately, Hong Kong’s tourism market was dominated by continuous progress within the variety of mainland Chinese language vacationers, who have been “predominantly inquisitive about purchasing”. Nonetheless, this pattern has been reversed up to now few years, because the variety of mainland guests dropped from a peak of 47.2 million in 2014 to 40.Three million in 2016. Potential causes for this variation embrace “native residents’ resentment in direction of purchasing tourism”, particularly parallel buying and selling, during which items are transported from Hong Kong to mainland China for resale, and the final financial downturn.
Regardless of the causes, the researchers stress that there’s an “pressing want for Hong Kong to diversify its tourism choices”. The backpacker market presents one such alternative, as a result of these vacationers “demand little infrastructure growth” and have a tendency to spend more cash with native companies, thus benefitting native communities.
Importantly, the researchers notice that backpackers are an “educated group” of usually youthful adults who wish to journey independently and work together with the communities they go to. They’re normally fairly adventurous and “don’t confine themselves to their ‘consolation zone'” however desire to discover unfamiliar locations with an emphasis on out of doors actions and eco-travel. As a result of they typically spend longer at a vacation spot, their total spending is greater than that of different vacationer teams, and so they typically go to extra distant districts and use native providers, thus spreading their expenditure all through the native financial system.
Nonetheless, the advantages of the backpacker market have additionally been challenged, with some research suggesting that there could also be restricted and even adverse results on native communities. Understanding the motivations, preferences and behavior of backpackers in Asia is a vital first step in deciding whether or not and methods to appeal to this explicit group.
The researchers thus performed a survey of backpackers staying at seven youth hostels in Hong Kong, as hostels are an “cheap lodging possibility that’s common amongst backpackers”. Different respondents have been surveyed whereas participating in out of doors actions, similar to mountain climbing on the favored MacLehose Path and Dragon’s Again Path. General, 90% of the respondents have been staying in youth hostels and the opposite 10% have been interviewed outside.
Greater than 60% of the respondents have been impartial feminine travellers of their twenties, and greater than 93% held a Bachelor’s diploma. Nearly 80% got here from North America, Australia or Europe, and simply over 20% from Asia. Their common size of keep in Hong Kong was every week or much less, and so they spent round US$46-86 per day. In accordance with the researchers, they tended to “go to distant areas of the town, guided of their itineraries by guidebooks and social media”.
The principle ‘pull’ components that motivated the backpackers to go to Hong Kong have been the “distinctive native meals”, the chance for “friendship with individuals of various international locations” and the “native life-style”.
The researchers notice that the need to expertise native meals just isn’t usually related to backpackers’ journey motivations. This is a vital discovering as a result of it differentiates backpackers in Hong Kong from these in different locations and signifies a method of attracting this group of travellers. Meals as a pull issue “serves as a supply of employment and earnings for native meals suppliers and not directly for native farmers”. It additionally presents alternatives for cultural change between travellers and host communities.
Buying was ranked because the lowest precedence, as anticipated given the same old pursuits of this group of travellers. Slightly extra surprisingly, out of doors actions additionally ranked very low, regardless of such actions usually being one of many principal sights for backpackers. The researchers recommend that this can be as a result of Hong Kong just isn’t “primarily a nature-based vacation spot” and out of doors actions usually are not a part of the vacation spot’s picture.
Among the many inside ‘push’ components that motivated the respondents to go to Hong Kong, the highest three have been “studying new issues”, “independence” and “experiencing unfamiliar life”.
Once more, the researchers notice that a very powerful issue, the need to be taught new issues, differs from that present in research performed elsewhere, which have tended to determine escape and leisure as backpackers’ principal inside motivation.
Just like backpackers elsewhere, the vast majority of respondents most popular to remain in youth hostels, though they differed within the “components and qualities” that they anticipated. “Pleasant native workers” was a very powerful lodging function, together with areas for assembly new pals. Because the researchers notice, these options match nicely with backpackers’ want to be taught new issues, as pleasant native workers “present an atmosphere for interplay and native data”, and that is complemented by the chance to make new pals.
One other Hong Kong-specific function recognized by the examine is the choice for native avenue markets. The researchers spotlight this as “indicative of how Hong Kong’s present sights could possibly be capitalised on”, as a result of backpackers are extra inquisitive about exploring the distinctive options of a vacation spot, which doesn’t require any further infrastructure.
One other necessary ingredient of the contribution backpackers make to Hong Kong is the extent to which they contribute to the event of sustainable tourism. To be sustainable, tourism should help in financial and societal growth, cultural conservation and environmental safety, assembly the wants of the current neighborhood whereas preserving assets for future generations. Backpackers’ method to journey and tourism is helpful on this respect, because the market usually reveals excessive sensitivity towards selling sustainability and concern for the atmosphere and native tradition.
The backpackers interviewed in Hong Kong definitely endorsed these values. As an illustration, they have been more likely to purchase merchandise from native retailers than from worldwide manufacturers, thus supporting native employment on the vacation spot. Additionally they contributed to sustainable tourism by supporting native actions, similar to taking part in cultural workshops and different culture-related actions, and interacting with village residents. Because the researchers notice, the purpose of sustainable tourism is to reinforce the constructive results on locations, and that is “precisely what backpackers in Hong Kong are prone to do whereas having fun with their journey”.
The examine supplies loads of ideas for a way Hong Kong may be marketed as a vacation spot for backpackers, who’re an necessary section of the tourism market. The researchers notice that though Hong Kong has a fame for “grand infrastructure initiatives, industrial sights and purchasing”, the backpacker market is inquisitive about supporting small native companies, purchasing in native markets, and visiting cultural and pure sights.
Consequently, creating range within the tourism market by focusing on this group might result in “a excessive propensity for cultural change and environmental preservation”. But the researchers additionally warn that their findings point out the “backpacker section is a heterogeneous group” and the push and pull components could differ for different locations. Vacation spot entrepreneurs ought to thus develop methods related to their explicit locations.
Lung, Ching Nok, Suntikul, Wantanee, Agyeiwaah, Elizabeth and Tolkach, Denis. (2017). Backpackers in Hong Kong – Motivations, Preferences and Contribution to Sustainable Tourism. Journal of Journey & Tourism Advertising and marketing, 34(8), 1058-1070.

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About PolyU’s College of Resort and Tourism Administration
For near 40 years, PolyU’s College of Resort and Tourism Administration has refined a particular imaginative and prescient of hospitality and tourism schooling and turn into a world-leading lodge and tourism faculty. Rated No. 1 on the earth within the “Hospitality and Tourism Administration” class in line with ShanghaiRanking’s International Rating of Tutorial Topics 2017 and 2018, positioned No. 1 on the earth within the “Hospitality, Leisure, Sport & Tourism” topic space by the CWUR Rankings by Topic 2017 and ranked among the many high 3 “Hospitality and Leisure Administration” establishments globally within the QS World College Rankings by Topic 2017 and 2018, the SHTM is an emblem of excellence within the discipline, exemplifying its motto of Main Hospitality and Tourism.
With 75 educational workers drawing from 22 international locations and areas, the College presents programmes at ranges starting from undergraduate levels to doctoral levels. In 2012, the SHTM was bestowed the McCool Breakthrough Award by the Worldwide Council on Resort, Restaurant, and Institutional Training (I-CHRIE) recognising its breakthrough within the type of its instructing and analysis lodge – Resort ICON – the guts of the College’s modern method to hospitality and tourism schooling. A member of the UNWTO Information Community, the SHTM can also be the editorial dwelling of Asia Pacific Journal of Tourism Analysis, Journal of Journey and Tourism Advertising and marketing, Journal of Instructing in Journey and Tourism and Journal of China Tourism Analysis.