Friday, May 16, 2003

Hongkong people shun crowds by going online

May 16, 2003

SYDNEY - Online traffic to shopping, education, news, medical and banking sites soared in Hongkong as people sought safety at home from the Sars virus and steered clear of public places, according to a survey.

The number of active Internet users in Hongkong showed double-digit growth last month for the first time since February 2001, said Internet monitor Nielsen/NetRatings.

Traffic increased dramatically as surfers explored sites they would not normally visit, said the agency's marketing director for Hongkong, Mr Peter Steyn.

Nielsen/NetRatings is a partnership between market research firm AC Nielsen and Internet measurement agency NetRatings Inc NTRT.O.

It said in a statement that average page views rose 44 per cent last month, compared with February.

For clarity, the agency compared last month with February, before panic over the Sars virus gripped Hongkong.

Nielsen/NetRatings said traffic to news sites rose 40 per cent last month compared with February; visitors to education portals increased 36 per cent; and traffic to banking sites jumped 27 per cent.

The number of people visiting general shopping sites rose 15 per cent.

However, that category was distorted by a significant decline in traffic to movie and event booking sites, and travel portals.

Nielsen/NetRatings did not have survey data for Internet shopping in other Sars-affected countries in Asia. -- Reuters

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