About 400,000 mainland tourists visited Hong Kong last month - a 20 per cent rise on the same period last year. The figures came one week after Financial Secretary Antony Leung Kam-chung visited Beijing to discuss proposals to relax restrictions on mainland visitors in an attempt to stimulate the economy. The Hong Kong Tourism Board recorded nearly 1.2 million arrivals last month. Mainlanders were the third biggest spenders after American and Taiwanese tourists in the past six months, with each person contributing $4,971. Mainlanders spent $10 billion in that period, up 13 per cent on last year. Per capita spending by American visitors was $5,684, with $5,016 for Taiwanese tourists. Total tourist spending for the past six months grew 7.7 per cent to $31 billion. The board put the growth down to the increasing opportunities for mainlanders to travel. But it warned of a difficult time ahead. 'Looking at the global economic environment and the growing regional competition for the tourist dollar, it is clear that the next six months are going to be more difficult,' tourism board executive director Clara Chong Ming-wah said. The board said arrivals from Taiwan had grown less strongly in July compared with recent months due to fears over the island's sluggish economic performance and the effects of devastating Typhoon Toraji. The daily quota for mainlanders receiving two-way permits will be increased from 1,500 to 2,000 next month. The Government also proposes to increase the time mainland visitors are allowed to stay and the validity period of their visas.