Hong Kong may lose its position as the top choice for outbound mainland tourists within a decade as they seek broader travel experiences, a recent report by Boston Consulting Group suggests.
The city's position as mainlanders' favoured travel destination might be challenged over time as they visit more places beyond Asia and prefer to have more "leisure activities" and "cultural experiences".
Hong Kong was kicked off a list of 15 most popular travel spots in a survey of nearly 1,000 middle-class mainlanders when asked what was their dream holiday destination in five to 10 years.
The Maldives received the most votes from respondents, followed by the United States, France and Australia.
"As Chinese tourists are becoming more and more sophisticated, shopping will not be the No1 reason for them to travel. More people would like to enjoy more leisure activities and experience exotic cultures during their trips," said Vincent Lui, a partner at BCG and co-author of the report.
Mainland tourists' choices are quite different from what they have been for the past few years.
According to the study, around four in 10 people picked Hong Kong as their top outbound travel destination over the past three years. Thailand, Macau and South Korea also ranked highly.
Yet the city dropped to number 10 in the list when the respondents are asked about the next destination they would like to visit.
Despite this, "Hong Kong will still remain one of the most popular places to go for mainlanders, especially for those in southern China, as it's just across the border", said Lui.
He added that China's central government is expected to continue to loosen the individual traveller scheme in the future, which will also support the tourism market in Hong Kong in the long run.
The mainland's tourism market is highly lucrative considering robust growth in tourist numbers and their spending.
The report estimates Chinese urban travellers will take 1.7 billion inbound and outbound trips annually by 2030, compared to only 500 million today. They are expected to spend US$1.8 trillion on tourism by then, nearly seven times their current expenditure.
Eight of the 10 most desired destinations for Chinese tourists in the near future would be outside Asia.