The Labour Day 'golden week' saw the arrival of 387,615 mainland visitors to Hong Kong in the nine days to Sunday, the Immigration Department said. This was an increase of almost 5.2 per cent on the same period last year, which saw 368,465 mainland arrivals. The year-on-year increase in 2005 was 3.82 per cent from a year earlier. A total of 354,904 mainlanders visited Hong Kong in 2004, the first full year that mainlanders could come as individual travellers under a scheme which was introduced in mid-July 2003, following the Sars outbreak. The government had forecast about 420,000 mainland visitors over the 10-day period, although the final tally is considered likely to fall short given that many would have been due to return to work yesterday. The Immigration Department figures also show that much of the mainland tourist influx was concentrated on the holiday's opening weekend last year, while more mainlanders arrived over the weekdays this year. A Hong Kong Tourism Board spokeswoman said that with more mainland cities being allocated to join the individual-visit scheme, it was no longer necessary for mainlanders to plan trips to Hong Kong around the year's peak travelling periods. 'This may be a good thing as Hong Kong might not be able to cater to the influx of mainland tourists if everyone arrived around the 'golden week' holidays,' the spokeswoman added. Hong Kong Hotels Association executive director James Lu Shien-kwai said some mainlanders might opt to take holidays elsewhere, or during off-peak periods, fearing peak-time overcrowding. He said that Japan's 'golden week' this month coincided with the mainland's holiday and that Japanese arrivals to the city had been 'healthy'.