Hong Kong will see about 59 million visitors this year, an increase of 8.6 per cent from last year, the Tourism Board estimates.
That would be slower than the year-on-year growth rate of 11.7 per cent last year.
The number of visitors from the mainland is expected to increase 10.8 per cent to 45.1 million; 60 per cent of those are projected to be same-day visitors. Last year arrivals from the mainland surged 16.8 per cent on 2012.
The board’s executive director Anthony Lau Chun-hon said the slight slowdown in the growth of mainland visitor numbers was normal. “The growth rate drops as the base number has grown bigger,” Lau said. “Mainland government bodies and state-owned enterprises are also expected to reduce their trips and spending,” he added.
The projection came a day after four top government officials criticised a protest on Sunday against mainland visitors, saying it tarnished the city’s image.
The board’s chairman Peter Lam Kin-ngok said he could understood public frustration over disruption caused by tourists.
“Of course it is not optimal that all tourists go to the same place like Causeway Bay,” he said. “But there are more than 200,000 people whose jobs are related to tourism. We need to find a balance.”
Facing a growing influx of visitors – projected by the government to reach 100 million a year in 2023 – it is necessary for Hong Kong to plan ahead and develop new attractions in areas such as Kowloon East and Lantau, Lam said.
The board projected that arrivals from short-haul markets – including Southeast Asia, Japan and South Korea – will increase by 1.6 per cent this year, while the number of visitors from further afield should increase by 2 per cent, following sluggish development in recent years.
Tourist numbers from nearby Asian markets dropped 0.8 per cent to 8.4 million last year, mainly due to a drop in Japanese visitors. The number of visitors from long-haul markets decreased by 3.3 per cent.
Visitors from new markets which the board had targeted – including India, the Netherlands, Russia and Vietnam – grew by 8 per cent last year.
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