Food and Beverage on the Victoria Harbour Waterfront (2015)




Executive Summary

As land reclamation in Hong Kong comes to an end, how the permanent waterfront will be developed becomes an important question. Hong Kong is now at the point where decisions must be made for what the harbour front will look like for generations to come. The transforming economy of Hong Kong points towards a future involving tourism and recreation. Enabling this transformation of the waterfront is something that requires careful and strategic planning and should not be taken lightly. Our project is a small part of an ongoing study of how the permanent Victoria Harbour waterfront can be improved with respect to livability and vibrancy by incorporating food and beverage.

Unlike other harbour cities around the world, such as Boston, Singapore, and Shanghai, Hong Kong does not make full use of food and beverage options to attract people to the harbour front. These three cities have good examples of waterfront dining because they incorporate outdoor seating, waterfront views, and all have destination dining locations. To help Hong Kong develop in a similar direction, our project’s goal was to determine how to improve Victoria Harbour’s waterfront dining and related facilities to enable and encourage a more “human” use of the Victoria Harbour waterfront and to take advantage of Hong Kong’s changing economy.

We walked the whole harbour front to identify and classify the locations of all existing food and beverage facilities, and we interviewed government officials and other experts to determine the constraints and obstacles involved in developing food and beverage facilities along the waterfront. By analyzing the data collected, we have identified a set of recommendations on how to enhance dining on the Victoria Harbour waterfront. xiv

Food and beverage facilities are not consistently distributed along the harbour. Most of the restaurants along the waterfront are located on streets, in ferry terminals and in malls. Very few food options can be found on promenades or in parks. There are some physical, social, and political obstacles to the development of harbour front food and beverage facilities. Physically, there is limited space and utilities available for the development of new food and beverage facilities. Socially, there is a concern that people living near the waterfront may complain about the noise from restaurants affecting their home area. Politically, food and beverage establishments are not viewed as part of leisure but only as commercial establishments. The government does not support commercial use of public land, and therefore it has imposed restrictions on the development of new food and beverage sales points along the harbour front. These restrictions also discourage the incorporation of outdoor seating. These constraints and obstacles limit the areas where food and beverage facilities can be incorporated into the waterfront and create an environment where people would have to leave the waterfront in order to eat, if they go at all.

We identified a number of changes that the private sector and the government can make to increase the number of food and beverage options on the harbour front. We provided recommendations for each location along the harbour front as well as for each type of site. These types include malls, ferry terminals, streets, promenades and parks. When considering these recommendations we believe that price diversity should be kept in mind in order to make harbour front dining affordable to everyone.

Some short-term recommendations that can be implemented are increasing signage for food and beverage options in parks and promenades, increasing the number of garbage and recycling bins and the including more temporary venders such as ice cream or beverage trucks in locations where the regulations and physical environment permit them. xv

Longer-term recommendations include streamlining the restaurant licensing process, increasing the number of food options in parks, and building new destination restaurant locations that provide a great variety of food offerings, harbour views, and outdoor seating. Government agencies could increase the number of activities that are allowed in parks and promenades as well as promote good habits to maintain these spaces as more dining options become available. We also recommend that the private sector and government make full use of the limited space on the harbour front by having more multiuse areas and ensuring that no space is wasted.

We hope that our recommendations are taken into consideration for existing and future developments. We are convinced that with improvements to food and beverage options, and one or more new restaurant destination areas along Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong will become more attractive and welcoming to locals and tourists alike.