While a Tourism Commission report has suggested Hong Kong can cope with a projected 70 million visitors in 2017, residents and tourists seemed less confident yesterday.
The report assessed various aspects of the city's visitor infrastructure, including entry control points, hotels, attractions and public transport.
Most Hongkongers interviewed by the Post yesterday said an influx of mainland visitors meant the city was already very crowded, with daily struggles to get to trains, restaurants and shops.
"I try to find quiet places in the countryside to spend the weekends with my girlfriend," Ho Chi-sun, a 25-year-old IT worker, said. "Areas like Tsim Sha Tsui and Causeway Bay are always crowded. I can't enjoy romantic walks on the Avenue of Stars any more as I get pushed along by tourists."
Ho would prefer the number of tourists to be limited to alleviate the strain on the city's infrastructure, but lamented that in reality Hongkongers have no say on issues such as the one-way-permits that allow 150 mainlanders each day to move to the city.
One local parent complained of time spent in queues. "I bring my kid to Ocean Park all the time. There are too many tourists and we spend most of the time queuing," Kei Guo, a 36-year-old salesman, said. "I can't help it and my son loves the Ocean Park… so we keep going back."
He also said it was "impossible" to get into popular food spots such as McDonald's and Fairwood during peak hours.
For some the crowded streets are still bearable, but differences in etiquette and habits frustrate.
"Yes, Hong Kong is getting very crowded but I could live with that," said Mona Shi, a 40-year-old teacher and naturalised resident originally from the mainland.
"Perhaps it's the cultural difference and the quality of tourists that is the biggest problem. Many tourists from the mainland are loud and impolite, and have strange habits that Hongkongers can't live with."
That sentiment was shared by many other locals, who cited examples of urination and defecation by mainland tourists in public areas.
Some mainland visitors agreed that the MTR and tourist attractions were often very crowded, but said that was to be expected and did not affect their enjoyment of the city.
"Hong Kong is an international commercial city with high density, so its crowded nature doesn't really surprise me," said Yu Yi-ning from Dalian.