Hong Kong tourist numbers see biggest increase in seven months thanks to Golden Week holiday
Mainland visitors flocking to city during eight-day public holiday helped a lot
The number of tourist arrivals in Hong Kong last month rose by the largest margin in seven months as mainland Chinese visitors fuelled the surge, helped by the eight-day “Golden Week” holiday.
In October, the city saw a 6.6 per cent year-on-year increase to 5.28 million visitors, the strongest growth since March, according to statistics released by the Tourism Board on Thursday.
The number of mainland Chinese visitors, who account for three quarters of all tourists in Hong Kong, expanded 8.3 per cent from last year to 4.03 million, indicating a bounceback in the sector after two consecutive years of decline.
The uptick transpired thanks to “Golden Week”, a Chinese public holiday running from October 1 to 8, tourism sector lawmaker Yiu Si-wing said. Golden Week happens every year, but this year was one day longer as Mid-Autumn Festival fell in the middle of it.
“China’s economy has been stable, and there was no negative news from Hong Kong about mainland tourists over the past year,” Yiu said. “Transportation to Hong Kong has also become more convenient, with [neighbouring city] Shenzhen adding more high-speed train lines.”
The number of visitors staying overnight in Hong Kong shot up 7.3 per cent, with those from the mainland soaring 10 per cent, while same-day traveller figures rose 5.9 per cent.
The improved figures for overnight visitors spelt good news for the retail sector, the lawmaker added, noting they usually spent two to three times more than people who arrived and left the city on the same day.
Yiu believed the strong October data indicated the city’s tourism industry was on the rebound. For the first 10 months of this year, visitor numbers grew 2.7 per cent over last year, while mainland visitor figures increased 3.1 per cent.
The upswing followed a two-year slump in the industry in 2015 and last year, as protests against parallel traders and hostility towards mainland tourists discouraged many from visiting, Yiu added.
Beijing’s anti-corruption campaign and crackdown on conspicuous consumption also kept big-spending mainland shoppers away. The number of visitors declined 4.5 per cent last year and 2.5 in 2015.
Comprising five per cent of the city’s overall GDP, tourism is a pillar industry in Hong Kong. The sector employs over 280,000 people.