Mainland Chinese visitor spending to exceed HK$2 billion in Hong Kong during Labour Day ‘golden week’ break, tourism chief says

Mainland Chinese visitor spending to exceed HK$2 billion in Hong Kong during Labour Day ‘golden week’ break, tourism chief says

Spending by mainland Chinese visitors is expected to exceed HK$2 billion (US$256 million) in Hong Kong during the Labour Day “golden week” break as arrival numbers fall in line with original estimates despite the recent stormy weather, the tourism chief has said.

Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism Kevin Yeung Yun-hung said on Sunday about 670,000 mainlanders crossed into the city between Wednesday and Saturday last week, the first four days of the break running from May 1 to 5 on the mainland.

The figure was 19 per cent more than the 560,948 trips recorded in the first four days of the corresponding golden week last year.

“It is close to our expectation of 800,000 mainland tourists. Considering the weather in Hong Kong, we have done a great job,” Yeung told a radio show, noting the heavy rainfall on both sides of the border might have delayed some travellers.

He said the final figure could exceed 700,000, as more tourists might come on Sunday as the weather improved.

“I believe they will spend over HK$2 billion in Hong Kong … It will bring some help to our economy,” he said.

Yeung added the government had originally estimated 800,000 mainland travellers would spend HK$2.3 billion.

He said about 560 mainland tour groups would come to Hong Kong over the break, noting they only accounted for a small portion of the total number of visitors from across the border.

The figure was down by 17 per cent from the Travel Industry Authority’s initial estimate of 680. Last year, 453 travel groups visited Hong Kong during the Labour Day golden week break.

Immigration figures showed mainlanders made 113,797 inbound trips to the city on Saturday, part of the group’s 669,117 arrivals between May 1 and 4.

One of the major initiatives to welcome the visitors, a fireworks display in Victoria Harbour on Wednesday, earlier drew criticism from some internet users.

The Tourism Board, which organised the HK$1 million show, confirmed in the afternoon on that day that the fireworks display would go ahead after warnings from the government that poor weather might force it to be cancelled.

Tourists flock to the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront amid wet weather earlier in the “golden week” holiday. Photo: Jelly Tse

Some tourists still expressed dissatisfaction on mainland social media platform Xiaohongshu, saying they could only see thick clouds of smoke.

Tourism minister Yeung said on Sunday he also saw a lot of smoke and failed to see the letters “HK” emblazoned in the sky, one of the elements promoted ahead of the show.

He said the display faced a lot of difficulties as the weather was hard to predict and the government had to consider a number of factors, noting he understood that the public had hoped the arrangement could have been finalised as soon as possible.

The city will host monthly pyrotechnics and drone shows as part of initiatives to lure and entertain visitors.

Yeung said the government would learn lessons from the recent performance, including for the drone show taking place on the coming Saturday.

“We will explain clearly in our promotion and manage expectations better,” he said.

Noting that some catering and retail operators had complained about lower-than-expected business during the break, Yeung said the situation varied depending on the district, as some mainlanders opted for “in-depth” tours in Hong Kong while others continued to visit traditional tourist spots.

But he emphasised the estimate of more than HK$2 billion being spent by mainland tourists was still a “good thing” to the city.

The government and tourism authorities have also stepped up efforts to lure visitors to different parts of the city, the tourism minister has said. Photo: Yik Yeung-man

The government and tourism authorities had also stepped up efforts to lure visitors to different parts of the city, with some tour groups adopting itineraries based on themes such as history and art, the minister said.

He added the administration would continue to organise mega events, while exploring ways to drive consumption by offering more dining options at the host venues and collaborating with hotels and tourism facilities.

According to statistics published by the Tourism Board last year, mainland tourists coming to Hong Kong for a day trip spent HK$1,400 per person on average, while spending by visitors staying overnight was HK$6,500.

In 2018, a day-trip mainland tourist spent HK$2,400, while the figure for an overnight visitor was HK$7,000.

Mainland travelers visit Central. Simon Wong of the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades says he believed only 10 per cent of mainland spending will go into the pockets of the catering industry. Photo: Dickson Lee

Timothy Chui Ting-pong, the executive director of the Hong Kong Tourism Association, said the government’s spending estimate was reasonable as it covered both one-day and overnight mainland travellers, who would splash out more on accommodation and visits to spots that charged admission such as Hong Kong Disneyland.

Simon Wong Ka-wo, the president of the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades, said he believed only 10 per cent of the total spent by mainland visitors would go into the pockets of the catering industry.

Citing industry statistics, he said the average daily expenditure of mainland tourists on food and beverages was more than HK$500 before the Covid-19 pandemic, but the figure was half that level this year.

“Visitors do not come for high-end meals. They are fine with dining in small restaurants and cha chaan teng,” Wong said, referring to Hong Kong-style cafes.

“It roughly costs them over HK$200. Budget travellers do not even need to spend that much.”

Tourists pose for photographs at the Yick Cheong Building in Quarry Bay. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

Chung Pok-man, vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Department Stores and Commercial Staff General Union, said the heavy rainfall had affected the business of pharmacies and retailers.

The duty-free allowance of 5,000 yuan (US$694) for mainland tourists was the major obstacle facing the industry, he said, calling for the limit to be relaxed.

Chung said travellers worried about paying taxes for their purchases and so refrained from spending too much. They had less incentive to shop in Hong Kong given the popularity of online marketplace on the mainland, he added.



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