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15 September 2023
Measuring visitation to Hong Kong’s natural and urban parks
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To get a better understanding of visitation in its parks, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) of Hong Kong has worked with Eco-Counter since 2017, and recently improved its monitoring program in two major country parks.

The local context

Out of the total 1,092 km2 of Hong Kong land’s, three-quarters is countryside, including various landscapes such as beaches, woodlands, and mountain ranges. Hong Kong’s natural areas are split into 24 different “country parks”, covering a total area of 440 km2.

Country Parks were created for the purposes of nature conservation, countryside recreation, and outdoor education. These beautiful parks comprise scenic hills, woodlands, reservoirs, and coastlines in all parts of Hong Kong.

Park management in Hong Kong deals with fire risks (that are present for six months out of the year), litter management, and providing the best level of service to park visitors (i.e. access to facilities, and the four long distance trails).

Finally, country park managers are highly concerned with fauna and flora protection, so finding a balance between welcoming visitors and protecting nature is a key priority (more than 3,100 species and varieties of vascular plants have been recorded in Hong Kong, approximately 2,100 of which are native).

Visitation monitoring in Hong Kong country parks


A scattered view and manual counting (2017-2020)

Since 2017, Hong Kong park managers have been measuring visitation with 15 automated counters installed in 5 different country parks, with different offices acquiring monitoring systems separately. This helped local authorities gain insight on the busiest hours, days and months to improve visitor experience.

For example, on Pyramid Hill in Ma On Shan Country Park, automated counters have enabled AFCD to understand trail usage to the top of hill and make the right decisions about hiking trail renovations.

In addition to automatic counting, manual counting is done by park rangers at key locations to gain information on attendance, but on limited time periods and locations as this type of data collection requires heavy manpower.

The pilot project (2020 – 2022)

Starting in 2020, a large project was undertaken to gather and build a more comprehensive overview of two major Hong Kong country parks.

Permanent counters were installed at each main and secondary entrance of these two country parks, to precisely measure the number of visitors coming in and out. In total, 14 permanent counters were installed in each park.

Data analysis and services provided to AFCD

Comparison of manual counts vs. automatic counts

Manual counts were being collected at the two parks, but only at certain hours and certain sites. This means that the data lacked representativeness, which is essential for decision-making. One of the goals of this project was to progressively roll out automatic counting to allow for better, more accurate, and more representative data. 

With help from Eco-Counter’s Data Services team, AFCD compared manual counts with automatic counts. Results showed great correlation between the two data sets (a 72% correlation rate overall), but very high differences in volume, with automatic counts being over 4 times as high during some periods, such as Chinese New Year festivities.

Correction factors calculation

AFCD & Eco-Counter also did some manual count validations to achieve the best possible level of accuracy. 

As can happen with PYRO counter algorithms, group masking can sometimes lead to an underestimation of counts. By doing count validation on the field, it is possible to determine a correction factor that can then be used to improve the data’s accuracy. In those two country parks, count validation was done on all 28 sites, which enabled Eco-Counter to statistically adjust automated counts and provide more accurate visitation numbers for each entrance. 


Example of attendance study with correction factors applied to get more accurate weekly visitation figures


Total visitor numbers report

All this work allowed Eco-Counter to give AFCD a comprehensive report on their park visitation that used reliable, accurate, and verified field data derived with fully transparent methodology. 

These data are updated each day and are visible on our Eco-Visio analysis software. The report is updated every quarter by the Eco-Counter Data Services team, providing park managers with global attendance figures, as well as detailed visitation by entrance (total and % split). 

These visitation reports will help park rangers optimize visitor services, improve information share to visitors, and improve maintenance works on the trails. 

About our Data Services

At Eco-Counter, we are committed to providing high-quality data expertise services that are tailored to your specific needs. Whether you need specific reports, validation and data reconstruction, or estimation of annual or seasonal volumes from short-term counts, we can help.

Beyond our physical products, we offer a wide range of services that can help you gain insights into your data.

Here is how we can help:

  • Our validation and data reconstruction services ensure that your data is accurate and reliable, so you can trust the results. Using a proven and reliable methodology, we validate, reconstruct data if needed, and communicate the results with you in full transparency.

  • We can also create specific reports to provide detailed analysis of your data, giving you the information you need to make good decisions.

  • In addition, we can also help you estimate annual or seasonal volumes from short-term counts. This is a valuable method for getting a better understanding of your network with less resources.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you make sense of your data!

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