Hong Kong restaurants worry bad weather will put off mainland Chinese tourists over Labour Day ‘golden week’ break

Hong Kong restaurants worry bad weather will put off mainland Chinese tourists over Labour Day ‘golden week’ break

Hong Kong restaurateurs are worried bad weather will put off many mainland Chinese tourists over the Labour Day “golden week” holiday, with a 10 per cent drop in business expected compared with the same period last year amid changing spending habits.

Simon Wong Ka-wo, the president of the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades, said on Wednesday operators were mostly pessimistic about their prospects for the holiday.

“Hong Kong has been hit by lightning and heavy rain today, which has deterred mainland tourists from coming in the morning. Bookings have also been so-so because visitors prefer to walk in instead of making advance bookings to suit their last-minute schedule,” he said.

As of 9pm, more than 173,000 mainland visitors had crossed into the city while about 295,800 people, including roughly 184,440 residents, had left, according to data from the Immigration Department.

The golden week holiday runs from May 1 to 5 on the mainland, and Hong Kong hosted a fireworks display on Wednesday to kick-off the celebrations despite earlier concerns the show might be cancelled due to the poor weather.

“As there may be a fireworks display tonight, there may be better business and flow of people later, about a 10 per cent rise compared with regular days,” Wong said.

“Still, there will be a drop of about 10 per cent in earnings compared with last year given visitors’ changing spending habits. This is the reality and industry bosses have been worried about it.”

Hong Kong welcomes nearly 140,000 mainland visitors as ‘golden week’ break starts

Ray Chui Man-wai, president of the Institute of Dining Art, said that while the wider sector would suffer amid the double whammy of adverse weather and more Hongkongers heading north to spend, outlets in prime harbourfront locations might see increased activity.

“This will be the first time we have a fireworks display on May 1. It will draw in many tourists who would like to visit a harbourside restaurant to get the best views. They are predicted to gain a 20 per cent rise in business,” he said.

“But other outlets are expected to have a miserable time. The adverse weather will turn people off and dampen the spending atmosphere.”

The city is expected to welcome at least 800,000 mainland visitors over the break, part of the 5.9 million arrivals and departures predicted for the holiday.

The rain did not deter hungry tourists from lining up outside popular bakery chain Bakehouse’s Causeway Bay outlet. Photo: May Tse

A wide range of activities have been planned to welcome tourists, including the 10-minute fireworks display. The pyrotechnics show over Victoria Harbour, which began at 8pm, saw fireworks form patterns such as smiley faces and the letters “HK” in the night sky.

Restaurants got off to a slow start earlier in the day in Causeway Bay, with some already complaining of poor business because of the bad weather.

A Post reporter observed sparse crowds in parts of the shopping district on Wednesday at noon, with the number of people only picking up by 4.00pm.

Mainland tourists flock to University of Hong Kong on ‘golden week’ break

At King’s Dim Sum, which was empty at around 1.30pm, a staff member surnamed Yam said she had never seen such a slow trade during golden week holiday in the past eight years.

“It is already the lunch hour, there is not even one person here,” she said, adding the bad weather was likely to blame.

At nearby Yan Wo Bean Product Factory, which sells various tofu snacks and dishes, restaurant operator Karen Choi said business was worse so far compared with past golden week breaks, with sales only reaching half of previous levels.

But some tourists were undeterred by the rain, with dozens queuing outside the Causeway Bay branch of bakery chain Bakehouse in the afternoon.

Among them was 24-year-old PhD student David Wang, from Beijing, who was visiting the city with his girlfriend on a day trip before heading to Shantou in Guangdong province.

Diners at a shopping centre in Causeway Bay. Some restaurants have complained of a slow start to the holiday. Photo: May Tse

Wong said they decided to visit the bakery to purchase its egg tarts, which were immensely popular on mainland social media platforms, adding he and his girlfriend also looked for guides on what to eat in the city online.

Sia Liu, a 26-year-old tourist from Henan, was also in line. She also said she planned her three-day itinerary using online guides on platforms such as Xiaohongshu.

Liu said the weather played a role in deciding what she would do while in the city.

“If the weather is good, we would do more sightseeing and walking,” she said. “If the weather is bad, we would want to stay indoors.”



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