As high-rolling Hainan province tempts tourists with tax-free shopping, Hong Kong has gone highbrow in the battle for visitors by offering a Dr Sun Yat-sen tour.
As part of this year's celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the 1911 revolution, the Tourism Board is touting themed tours retracing the steps of the founding father of modern China for the upcoming 'golden week' national holiday.
Sun was educated in Hong Kong and described the city as his 'intellectual birthplace'.
Tourists can choose between stops including the Sun Yat-sen Historical Trail, Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum in Central and Sun Yat-sen Memorial Park in Sheung Wan.
Or they can enjoy the exhibition 'Centenary of China's 1911 Revolution' at the Museum of History in Tsim Sha Tsui before enjoying a night's stay on a Star Cruises ship.
Some 300,000 promotional text messages will be sent to mobile phone users in southern China.
The board expects an increase of up to 15 per cent in mainland visitors for the May 1 to 3 holiday. About 80,000 people are expected to visit each day, Tourism Board executive director Anthony Lau Chun-hon said. This year so far, visitor numbers have increased by 14 per cent to 11.3 million. The number of mainland visitors rose 19 per cent to 7.3 million.
Hainan province started a pilot tax-rebate programme yesterday, attracting over 15,000 customers to Sanya's only tax-free store. However, Lau said it was unlikely to have a big impact on Hong Kong.
'Hainan appeals to mainland tourists as they don't need any permits to go there. However, the range of products in the tax-free store is limited,' Lau said.
The fall in the number of Japanese visitors since the earthquake in the country has also started to diminish, Lau said, as business travellers stuck to their plans.
It was too early to say whether Hong Kong would pick up visitors from elsewhere who had planned to go to Japan, Lau said.