A senior official from the mainland's tourism watchdog said yesterday he was half-surprised by the solid increase in the number of mainland tourists visiting Hong Kong during the Labour Day 'golden week' holiday following reports of shopping scams. China National Tourism Administration deputy director Zhang Xiqin said he did not expect to see a substantial increase in the number of mainlanders taking trips to Hong Kong over the holiday, given television reports of shopping scams were broadcast on the mainland in April. But he was not totally surprised because the mainland had such an enormous population of potential tourists wanting to visit Hong Kong. 'I saw from TV that Hong Kong Tourism Board chairman James Tien Pei-chun sent pamphlets to mainland tourists to warn them of shopping frauds. Hong Kong's measures to restore its image as a shopping paradise have been successful,' Mr Zhang said. 'Also, it shows the great potential of our tourism market as more and more mainlanders will make trips in the future. Mainlanders only make one trip a year on average at the moment. It is a far lower rate than residents of moderately developed countries.' A CCTV report in April showed mainland tourists paying top prices in Hong Kong shops for diamond jewellery and watches that were fake. Some also complained of being pressured by tour operators into making purchases. The story was picked up by mainland and Hong Kong media and prompted Hong Kong authorities to crack down on suspect shops and extend the guaranteed-refund period for tourists from 14 days to six months. In late April, Hong Kong tourism insiders held a meeting with mainland officials in Beijing, seeking help from the mainland to crack down on cheap tour packages which Hong Kong officials believe to be the root of shopping scams. The mainland officials promised at the meeting to send inspectors disguised as tour group members to the city to expose industry scams. Asked about the timing of the undercover investigation, Mr Zhang said: 'It's a secret. We hope the secret weapon will create a huge impact some day.' More than 540,000 mainlanders visited Hong Kong between April 27 and May 6, up more than 30 per cent on the same period last year, according to the Hong Kong Immigration Department.