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Rediscovering Hong Kong through locals’ eyes |

Travel and Tourism

Rediscovering Hong Kong through locals’ eyes

CRAZY QUILT - Tanya T. Lara - The Philippine Star

Anthony Lau’s first trip abroad more than 30 years ago was to the Philippines. Born and raised in Hong Kong, he and a friend went to Mindoro and soaked in island life. One afternoon, a boat carrying several men with their faces covered from the sun with shirts approached their deserted island. The two young Hong Kongers felt a bit of panic, but as the masked men neared the beach, they opened a cooler and asked the teens if they wanted to buy soft drinks.

Lau laughs when he recalls this experience. He has been to the Philippines many times since but nothing is as memorable for him than the first time. Lau was in Manila recently — this time in his role as Hong Kong Tourism Board executive director — to launch Hong Kong’s new campaign called “My Time For…”

Lau says, “I became friends with one of the men and gave him my Casio watch and for many years after I would send him batteries for the watch to keep it running.”

We tell Lau that for Filipinos, their first trip abroad is usually to Hong Kong — a city so near Manila and yet so different in many ways.

Lau says that what he learned on his first trip abroad was that there is nothing like seeing a place — for the first time or the nth time — through the eyes of locals.

That is what the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) wants its visitors to take away from a trip to the city: authentic experiences and not just the usual tourist places like Central and Tsim Sha Tsui. After all, Hong Kong for Filipinos is still the cheapest flight abroad and seasoned travelers go to Hong Kong at least once a year or more, either to go shopping or go on a food trip.

There is so much more of Hong Kong to see, according to Lau, if you veer away from the usual and experience Hong Kong like a local. “We want our visitors to know, see and feel that a trip to Hong Kong never disappoints and always gives you a wonderful experience that leaves you with a great story to tell. And we illustrate these experiences by going deeper to uncover unique insights to show fun and authentic experiences through the eyes of local experts.”

HKTB partnered with local key opinion leaders to produce a series of entertaining videos showcasing different kinds of experiences.  “My Time For Indulgence” features Michelin-star chef Alvin Leung, showing the audience how to consume a whole cow through culinary experiences in Sheung Wan, Temple Street and Wan Chai.  “My Time for Renewal” stars designer and style blogger J.J. Acuna, who takes the viewers on a unique journey through Hong Kong sourcing for different clothes to style himself as a gentleman.  “My Time For Urban Escapes,” sees The Savvy Guide’s host and model Jason Godfrey showing the audience where and how to best get suntanned when in Hong Kong.  “My Time for Summer Fun” features 1,600 pandas on an adventurous tour through the city’s family-friendly hot spots.

 “The campaign highlights moments, emotions, and experiences that visitors can expect when they visit the city.  Today’s travellers have an unquenchable thirst for new experiences, we want to build an emotional connection with our consumers and try to portray to them what if feels like to be in Hong Kong,” shares Lau.

The campaign encompasses nine experiences: dining, shopping, city icons, heritage and tradition, Hong Kong after dark, great outdoors, festivals, sports, and arts. “We made sure to include attractions that are beyond the usual to entice more tourists. The nine core experiences also ensure that there is something for every type of tourist, so whether you’re looking for arts, nature, the outdoors, or culture in Hong Kong, you know that there’s something exciting in store for you,” adds Lau.

HKTB recognizes that many travelers today no longer rely on a set itinerary but would rather do things on their own. For such travelers, HKTB has developed an interactive mobile app called My Hong Kong Guide, which  helps you plan your own itinerary and get inspiration on what other travellers are doing in Hong Kong. You can also share your Hong Kong adventures with your friends on social media. 

This series of guides is a compilation of stories, recommendations and tips from people in the know. Topics range from the art galleries to superstitions —and you’ll discover real, up-to-the-minute local advice to guide you.

HKTB is also running a contest on Facebook called “Ask The Boss” starting this month. To join the contest, participants need to choose their favorite Hong Kong moment and tell “the boss” why they need this trip to renew and rekindle their passion for the job. And the most creative applicant will stand to win a trip and usher in the new year in Hong Kong.

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