Visitor spending in Hong Kong is expected to have increased 16 per cent year-on-year to more than $75 billion last year, fuelled by a record growth in mainland travellers, says the Hang Seng Economic Monthly. In 2001, tourism receipts stood at $64.28 billion, according to the Hong Kong Tourism Board. Mainland visitors spend an average of $5,170 per trip to Hong Kong, more than travellers from any other country, and 14 per cent more than the average visitor. The figures for visitor spending for 2002 are expected in the middle of the year. Hang Seng Bank believes visitors from the mainland will make up more than 50 per cent of Hong Kong's total incoming visitors in less than two years if the rapid growth continues. At present they account for 41.2 per cent of travellers arriving in Hong Kong. 'It is therefore essential to understand the appeal of Hong Kong to mainland visitors to better capture this potentially huge market,' the monthly report said. In addition, strengthening Hong Kong's role as a shopping paradise for these visitors, not just based on price but also on service and quality, could probably induce them to spend even more, it said. 'In this regard, negative publicity about tourist rip-offs by Hong Kong retail shops needs to be properly addressed through greater consumer protection, education and service promotion in order not to scare away the tourists,' it said. Last Friday, the Hong Kong Tourism Board said visitor arrivals in 2002 rose 20.7 per cent to 16.6 million. But more than one-third did not stay overnight. The growth was largely due to the strong influx of mainland visitors, who increased by 53.4 per cent year-on-year to reach 6.8 million last year.