Tourism Impacts on New Cruise Terminal at Kai Tak

Hong Kong in Chinese literally translates into “Fragrant Harbour”. Victoria Harbour is the heart and soul of Hong Kong, which is famous as being one of the world’s greatest commercial and trading centres. Its natural harbour is capable to support even the largest ships because of its natural depth of more than 50 feet[1]. Hong Kong will start building its new Kai Tak Cruise Terminal next year in the hopes of developing into a premier cruise hub in the region. It seems a new role has been found for the old Kai Tak airport in the heart of Hong Kong. Keeping it’s role as an arrival and departure point for travellers.

The Hong Kong government is interested in developing facilities to maintain and strengthen the economy. The new cruise terminal will allow Hong Kong contend for the position of being “The Miami of the East”. Hong Kong already has the major factors which draw tourists to travel- a dizzying array of shopping arcades and the natural beauty of Hong Kong’s harbour and mountains. The cruise industry could be a huge market that Hong Kong may increase the amount of money spent by tourists on housing, eating, and enjoying what the city has to offer. Background In 1924, the Kai Tak site was owned by Ho Kai and Au Tak, who planned to uild private housing.

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The plan failed and the reclaimed piece of land was given to the government. Kai Tak was used by the Royal Air Force until 1936, when it was transformed into an airport. Kai Tak International Airport closed in 1998, due to the Chek Lap Kok, a larger Hong Kong International Airport, was constructed in its place. The idea of the development of the new cruise terminal in Kai Tak is to achieve a world-class Harbour District, because of the limited land available around the Victoria Harbour which optimised to provide a vibrant, active and accessible foreshore catering for both residents and tourists. 2] On 30 September 2008, the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has announced the decision to finance the development of New Cruise Terminals at Kai Tak (“New Cruise Terminal”) and which to ensure that the first stage would begin operation in mid-2013. Under this development approach, the Government will design and build the cruise terminal and lease the terminal hardware to a cruise terminal operator for a rent, while retaining ownership of the site and the terminal. [3] Analysis Currently the Kai Tak site is an inaccessible wasteland.

The entire area is fenced off from the public and seems separated from the rest of Hong Kong. The government is currently gathering a public consensus on the development of Kai Tak through a three stage public participation plan. [4] The government has published a Public Consultation Digest and held three public forums, a community workshop, exhibitions of consultation and discussion subjects, and relevant consultation materials have been displayed in the Planning Department Mobile Exhibition Centre and Hong Kong Planning and Infrastructure Exhibition Gallery.

The government proposed the development of a new cruise terminal to support as well as upgrade facilities and increase the tourism industry. The current cruise terminal Western Kowloon is not able to handle the capacity necessary for a larger cruise industry. The current facility only has two ports of call and is a homeport. A homeport is essential for developing a major cruise terminal because it is where a cruise starts and ends. Homeports encourage tourists to arrive a few days earlier or to leave a few days later, spending more time at the homeport city. This will benefit hotels, retail outlets, and tourism as a whole in Hong Kong.

In addition, the Central Government introduced a measure in April to allow Mainland tour groups travelling to Taiwan to take cruise vessels homeporting in Hong Kong, bringing the development of cruise tourism in the Mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong to a new stage. The first sailing was completed smoothly in August. Approximately 20 sailings from Hong Kong to Taiwan, with a total capacity of 30 000 passengers, will be launched this year. [5] The government’s cruise terminal proposal at the Kai Tak site includes only two ports of call, which is not sufficient for Hong Kong to become a world-class cruise center.

As of yet, there is no one major cruise terminal in the Far East. Singapore is already building a large international cruise terminal, which can accommodate more than half a dozen of the latest cruise liners. Hong Kong needs to take advantage of this rare opportunity to be the first major player in the Far East in the cruise industry. Therefore, it is vital for the government to develop a cruise terminal proposal with more than two ports, and one should be a homeport. Winston Chu proposes the development of a cruise terminal at the Kai Tak site with a minimum of ten berths with the potential of twelve berths.

Chu recommends that all of the Kai Tak Airport Runway should be preserved for the tourism industry to provide an International Cruise Terminal. This is necessary for Hong Kong to have a world-class passenger port. [6] The land along the harbour should be utilized for its natural resource- the water for shipping. In addition, if the government creates only two ports and demand exceeds capacity, reclamation may be necessary to create the additional land needed to birth more ships. Expansion of a cruise terminal in the future may be at the expense of more reclamation of the harbour.

A second issue of concern is whether Victoria Harbor can support the newer and larger fleet of cruise ships. In 2005, the luxurious Diamond Princess came into Hong Kong and was forced to berth at the Container Terminal in Kwai Chung. The cruise terminal in Western Kowloon was not deep enough to accommodate the 180,000 ton Diamond Princess. [7] The government of Hong Kong all believe the need for the cruise terminal exists. The location of the cruise terminal is crucial in determining its success and to best maximize the facility.

Tourists may simply take a step off of the cruise ship and arrive on Nathan Road, “The Golden Mile” of shopping. Infrastructure may be created to facilitate in transporting tourists from South East Kowloon to Western Kowloon. However, the convenience of the cruise terminal remaining in Western Kowloon is a strong argument, but there are major natural issues if the terminal were to remain at its existing site. A number of experts believe the Kai Tak Approach is a more suitable site for the cruise terminal as its natural assets may allow for a more successful terminal.

In addition to the government’s minimalist plan of having only two ports, which are not enough to support a large cruise terminal industry, some experts believe the water in Western Kowloon is not deep enough to accommodate larger cruise ships. The Kai Tak runway was reclaimed from the harbor several times since its initial construction and is currently 3390 meters in length. [8] The runway extends out into the ocean, and as a result the waters surrounding the approach are deep enough to support larger cruise ships, up to 50 meters deep.

Although South East Kowloon may not be as huge a tourist destination as Western Kowloon, transportation infrastructures help to ease this issue. For example, the MTR transports tourists to Disneyland with ease. Tour buses may be employed to move tourists from one destination to another. It is not unusual for tourists to take an organized tour bus to specific tourist destinations. While Hong Kong is known for its major shopping destination in Tsim Sha Tsui of Western Kowloon, tourists come to Hong Kong to experience its natural beauty.

There is no doubt that the Kai Tak is an environmental nightmare. A sensible, environmentally friendly solution is the route the government should sway towards in order to have no further reclamation. If the Kai Tak approach is not treated it will greatly diminish the value of Kai Tak and the governments chance to develop the land into a desirable sector. [9] Conclusion Tourists who arrive in Western Kowloon find themselves at the steps of major shopping arcades, cinemas, and restaurants.

Furthermore, the harbour front needs to be used for harbour essentials, such as a cruise terminal and waterfront promenade, instead of facilities that can survive at other locations. The proper installation of road and railways will also be essential to the prosperity and development of Kai Tak. To enlarge the current facility in Western Kowloon, building more shopping arcades and museums. Together with all these infrastructure in progress, there will be providing more job opportunities. Kai Tak is a substantial area which needs to be properly developed to take Hong Kong to the next level of world class cities.

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