Hong Kong expects May 1 holiday tour groups from China to decline by half

Hong Kong expects to welcome about half as many tour groups from China for the May 1 Labour Day holiday as the city's tourism industry tackles overseas competition and cross-border tensions which may encourage mainland visitors to travel elsewhere.



Joseph Tung, executive director of Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong which represents the city's tourism operators, said the the number of mainland tour groups visiting Hong Kong had fallen 40-50 percent in the last few months, and a softer trend was expected. "We are likely to see a (year-on-year) drop of 40-50 percent in the upcoming Labour Day holiday to about 150 tours a day," said Tung.

Hong Kong received about 300 tours a day for the same holiday a year ago, while a low of about 120 tours a day was recorded in the city of late, Tung said. About 600 tours a day visited the former British colony at its peak a few years ago.

"In terms of booking, we still see a huge gap for the upcoming holiday as compared to last year," said Paul Leung, chairman of The Hong Kong Inbound Travel Association.

"We hope than it can go up to over 200 tours a day during the holiday, which is still 30 percent less than last year."

"There are so many choice for mainland tourists nowadays," Leung said, adding many mainlanders also chose to visit Hong Kong at off-peak times.

Tourism operators and retailers have blamed cross-border tension and protests for driving mainland tourists away.

Gregory So, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, said earlier this week some mainland visitors were attracted to nearby destinations after some countries relaxed visa restrictions, while the currency depreciation of other countries had also attracted mainland tourists.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board said total visitor numbers fell 20.5 percent in February from the same month in 2015. The number of mainland visitors, which accounted for 84 percent of the total, fell 26 percent during the period, it said.

Hong Kong's retail sales suffered their steepest decline in almost 17 years in February, dragged down by China's economic slowdown and a fall in mainland tourist numbers.

Last week, China's top jewellery retailer Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group said its Hong Kong same-store sales fell 26 percent for January-March quarter, hit hard by the declining number of mainland tourists and weak consumer sentiment.

Smaller jeweller Luk Fook Holdings (International) said its same-store sales plunged 27 percent, while cosmetic retailer Sa Sa International saw its same-store sales down 17.6 percent during the quarter.

 

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