A record number of aircraft is expected to arrive and depart from Chek Lap Kok airport on the eve of the Lunar New Year, it was announced yesterday. The figures are being seen as further evidence of a boom in Hong Kong tourism over the holiday period. The Civil Aviation Department reported that up to 732 flights are anticipated on January 31, 24 per cent more than the daily average of 590. Members of the tourism industry say the increase can be attributed to more mainland visitors arriving and more local people taking holidays outside Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Tourism Board has estimated that at least 360,000 visitors, half from the mainland, will arrive in the SAR during the Lunar New Year holidays. They will spend about $1.6 billion. The holiday will also see a record set for aircraft landing and leaving Hong Kong on a single day since 648 planes used the airport on March 29 last year during the Easter holidays. The Civil Aviation Department said 20 airlines had been given approval to operate a total of 1,030 additional flights from January 25 to February 10. This represents an increase of 15 per cent over the 896 flights recorded during the Lunar New Year holidays last year. These flights will offer services to 41 destinations around the world including 22 on the mainland. The most popular destinations for holiday travellers are Shanghai, Taipei, Bangkok, Guilin, Sapporo and Phuket. Joseph Tung Yao-chung, the executive director of the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong, said the number of outgoing tours would increase by at least 5 per cent from last year. 'Places on many tours are 70 per cent filled already, particularly tours to Japan, Korea and Taiwan.' Lai Tung-kwok, Director of Immigration, said seven million people would leave and arrive in Hong Kong through the land border checkpoints, an increase of 12 per cent on the same period last year. About 80 per cent of these arrivals would cross the border through Lowu. He said more than 1,900 tours with 40,000 tourists from the mainland had registered with the department before visiting Hong Kong. The registration could help speed up immigration clearance.