The "very, very tough year" that authorities have predicted for Hong Kong's tourism industry would be the envy of any other government. The Tourism Board expects that the number of visitors to our city this year will increase by 6.4 per cent to about 65 million, a robust total for a city of 7.1 million people, but not a good outlook given that growth has for years been in the double digits. Continued slowing of the mainland economy and competition from other Asian destinations are the reasons for the concern. However, attention also has to be paid to a rising chorus of residents, especially in northern districts, who complain that they are being over-run by day-trippers from Shenzhen choking transport and streets and stripping shops of daily necessities. These are long- and short-term issues that have to be treated with different strategies. Board chairman Peter Lam Kin-ngok highlighted the matter recently saying the government had to decide who it wanted to attract and how. Tourists who stay for one night or more contribute more to the economy than those on day trips shopping for goods including baby milk formula, diapers and shampoo. Despite a 12 per cent increase in tourist numbers last year, retail sales fell by 0.2 per cent, the first decline since 2003, a performance put down mainly to a drop in demand by mainland tourists for luxury goods. Officials have embarked on promotional trips to the mainland and overseas. Residents competing with suitcase-toting visitors are aghast at suggestions that we need more tourists. It is a matter of definition, though: Should people who come from Shenzhen regularly for shopping be considered tourists? More than 77 per cent of visitors last year were from the mainland; about half were shoppers and parallel goods traders who crossed the border and returned the same day. A distinction has to be made by the government between those people who come for several days for sightseeing and those here for a few hours. This would ensure clearer management of goals. We need to attract tourists who will stay longer and spend more. A pressing matter is effectively dealing with the influx of cross-border shoppers who are causing inconvenience and product shortages. Tourism is one of Hong Kong's most important industries; visitors cannot be turned away. Our reputation as a destination will suffer if we restrict who is welcome and impose grounds for visits. The challenges have to be carefully managed.