Hong Kong is a top tourist destination in Asia. I have visited this place many times in the past. I like Hong Kong partially because of my Cantonese heritage, but more so for its diverse culture as an international hub where East meets West.

Recently, however, I heard some news about Hong Kong that disturbs me. Now, I feel doubtful if Hong Kong will be able to sustain a healthy growth in tourism unless the government can come up with better strategies.

Should Hong Kong invest in large-scale tourism projects?

I heard a voice that Hong Kong should start making big investments in large-scale (and often artificial) tourism projects because other destinations or competitors are doing so to attract tourists (e.g., Singapore and Guangdong Province in mainland China). This strategy may work and possibly yields reasonable returns if it comes with innovations and breakthrough ideas.

It was a brilliant and innovative idea, for example, when Disney introduced the first theme park in Anaheim, California, but building another Disney theme park in a different location is not a new idea anymore.

Even if we set aside the concerns of whether the government can come up with some innovative ideas in tourism development, for a highly populated destination like Hong Kong where people are fighting for every piece of land for residential purpose, I am not sure it would even be feasible to find a new place for any big projects.

Rather, I would suggest Hong Kong spend more money on projects that help integrate the existing resources for tourism activities.

A good case in point is Ngong Ping 360 (cable cars), which provides tourists easy access to the Big Buddha in Lantau Island, while at the same time allows tourists to enjoy the natural scenery of the countryside. Enhancements can also be made to the Ocean Park and the Ocean Terminal in Victoria Harbor (port for cruise ships).

Is it a good idea to remove the trams in Hong Kong Island?

The Hong Kong government also recently made a proposal to remove the trams and tramways in Hong Kong Island so the place can accommodate more cars on the street. I am hoping the decision-makers will not take it seriously because this recommendation sounds nothing but crazy and ridiculous.

According to the official website of Hong Kong Tramways, the first tramcar in Hong Kong was put in use in 1904. The tramcars have been serving the city for more than 110 years, and they still carry an average of 200,000 passengers per day.

To me, the trams have become a symbolic icon of Hong Kong — I strongly believe other tourists and local citizens in Hong Kong hold the same point of view as well. I have always found it fun to ride on the tram. I really don't understand why anyone would want to get rid of such a valuable tourism asset.

If traffic becomes an issue, should the city put more effort in promoting public transportation like the tramways? Tramcars create no pollution. They always run on schedule no matter how bad the traffic conditions. Most of all, the trams are the most affordable form of public transportation in Hong Kong (HK$2 or less than 30 cents in U.S. dollars for each ride).

I will feel very disappointed with the decision-makers if they end up removing the tramways in Hong Kong Island. Referring back to my argument to the first question, shouldn't the government find ways to preserve and protect the tramways as an important tourism asset?

The results of poor planning

Entering 2015, Hong Kong has seen a sharp decline in number of tour groups and number of individual travelers, especially from Mainland China, according to China Daily. Certainly, there are many other factors contributing to this result.

For example, the protest against Chinese tourists is one, and the strong Hong Kong dollar (tied with the U.S. dollar) against other currencies (e.g. Japanese Yen and Euro) is another. It is also possible that Hong Kong has reached its capacity.

When there is no clear vision in a destination's strategic plans, its long-term success becomes questionable. What suggestions will you make to the decision-makers in Hong Kong? As far as tourism development is concerned, what lessons do you learn from this case?