Researchers from the University of Science and Technology have launched an artificial intelligence-powered predictive tourism index, which they say can provide accurate travel-related forecasts for mainland visitors and help the industry in its planning.
The monthly index, developed with data analytics firm Wisers Information, takes into account a range of indicators, including visitor arrivals and hotel occupancy rates. The numbers are then juxtaposed against 2018 figures.
The August index of 92.16, for example, means the expected number of mainland tourists coming to Hong Kong this month will be 92 percent of that in 2018.
He Chao, an adjunct associate professor at the HKUST Business School, said the AI model also analyses data from popular mainland social media platforms like Xiaohongshu to gauge netizens’ interests in the SAR.
He said the information can help policymakers formulate better tourism strategies as the city recovers from the pandemic.
“With our model, we can actually go back to explain which elements cause the mainland tourists to want to come to Hong Kong. For example in our study, we discovered that the visa, transportation, and shopping are really important,” He said.
“So in a way, government policymakers and industry decision makers can actually tackle those root causes to make Hong Kong more attractive to potential tourists.”
The team says the model may in future be expanded to predict tourist numbers in specific districts, in order to help the industry implement better crowd-control measures.