The annual number of tourists visiting Hong Kong could swell to 100 million in the next decade, says the convenor of a top government advisory body. "If we project figures based on the recent rate of increase in tourists here, we could get to 100 million visitors by 2023," said Jack So Chak-kwong, who convenes the working group on convention and exhibition industries and tourism under the Economic Development Commission. If we project figures based on the recent rate of increase in tourists here, we could get to 100 million visitors by 2023 So had earlier said Hong Kong should double its supply of hotel rooms in the next 10 years to accommodate the city's rapidly growing tourist crowd. "I really wanted to sound a warning bell, because that estimate [of doubling hotel room supply] is already quite conservative," he told the South China Morning Post . So's comment comes as the government conducts a cross-departmental study on the city's tourism capacity, including its immigration facilities, transport and accommodation. Last year, Hong Kong welcomed a record 48.6 million visitors - a 16 per cent increase from 2011's 41.9 million. More than 70 per cent were from the mainland, and almost half of all the visitors stayed overnight. In comparison, top tourist destinations France and the United States respectively received 83 million and 67 million international tourists last year, figures from the UN World Tourism Organisation showed. In Hong Kong, there are currently almost 72,000 hotel rooms available citywide, Tourism Board statistics showed. By 2017, this will increase by 6 per cent to about 76,600. Including hotels whose completion dates are yet to be announced, the number will rise to almost 84,000. But this will be just 16.7 per cent more rooms than those available this year - a much slower pace of increase than the working group proposes. Green Sense president Roy Tam Hoi-pong objects to building more hotels for the city's growing number of visitors. "If the hotels are full now, why don't we just take this as an indication that the city's carrying capacity has already reached its limit? Hotel room supply can be a tool to restrict tourism," he said. More than 100,000 people a day visited Hong Kong during peak holiday periods such as the National Day Golden Week, Tam said, and that overwhelmed the city's transport networks and communal space available. "Mr So ignores local grievances," he said. "He commutes in a car, and not on the MTR which is always overcrowded." But So said after his working group spent much time discussing Hongkongers' increasing grievances about the rapid influx of tourists, they nevertheless concluded that "Hong Kong cannot close its doors". "We can't say 'no more; from tomorrow, we restrict the numbers to so and so'," he said. "Hong Kong's an open economy. We're an open city." So said Hong Kong could adopt more proactive marketing to attract the high spenders into the city, but it could not ban people on lower incomes from visiting. More tourists meant more business opportunities, and to make this sustainable, it was necessary to increase the city's hardware, such as its hotels and tourist attractions, he added. A government source agreed it was hard to control tourist inflow. But the 100 million figure was not definite. It merely gave people a sense of what it would be like in the face of sustained tourism growth, he said. Travel Industry Council chairman Michael Wu Siu-ieng urged the government to balance economic development and local sentiment. If Hong Kong could increase its tourist capacity while directing them to places away from the city centre, people might begin to think more positively about tourism, he said.