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Tourism

Hong Kong visitor numbers continue to rise, with 5 million tourists in March

Figures from the Hong Kong Tourism Board show three quarters of the visitors last month were from mainland China

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 April, 2018, 9:41pm
UPDATED : Monday, 30 April, 2018, 10:11pm

Almost 9 per cent more travellers visited Hong Kong this March compared with the same period a year ago, and more of them stayed overnight, underlining further improvements in the city’s tourism sector.

The city received 4.99 million visitors in March, up 8.9 per cent, and three quarters of them – 3.66 million – were from mainland China, according to figures released by the city’s Tourism Board on Monday.

The number of mainland visitors jumped 10.1 per cent when compared with March last year.

Some 2.3 million of the total arrivals stayed overnight in Hong Kong, up 6.5 per cent from March 2017. Among them, about 1.4 million were mainland visitors.

The figures suggested more mainland tourists returned to the city as the legacy of anti-mainland sentiments from about three years ago has died down. At that time, the number of mainland visitors was so large that many Hongkongers fought with them for daily necessities such as baby milk formula and infant diapers.

Legislator Yiu Si-wing, who represents the tourism sector, while remaining optimistic about the outlook of the sector, noted that only 46 per cent of the visitors chose to spend a night or more in the city.

“Over half of the visitors just came to Hong Kong for a one-day trip. That probably showed that our hotels are too expensive,” said Yiu, who urged the government to zone more land to build hotels in the future.

He also urged officials to develop more tourist destinations to attract more visitors to stay longer in the city.

The March improvements followed an exceptional boost in visitor numbers in February, when the city saw a 26.3 per cent growth in visitor arrivals, compared to a year ago, thanks to the Lunar New Year, which fell in the middle of February this year.

For the first three months, Hong Kong received 15.61 million visitors, an increase of 9.6 per cent from the same period in 2017.

More than 60 million tourists expected in Hong Kong in 2018 as officials pin hopes on projects linking city to mainland China

In 2014, a record 60.8 million visitors came to the city. Last year, the total number of visitors was 58.4 million.

Meanwhile, Alice Chan Cheung Lok-yee, executive director of the Travel Industry Council, said that in recent years more mainlanders chose to visit Hong Kong through the mainland’s individual visit scheme. Under the liberalisation measure, mainlanders can visit the city in their individual capacity without having to join group tours or obtain a business visa.

She urged travel agencies to introduce more programmes to lure visitors to sign up for package tours. “Package tours should still be attractive to those clients who are more price-sensitive,” Chan said.