National Day long weekend expected to put HK$1.2 billion sparkle back into Hong Kong restaurants
- Restaurant industry figures predict the long weekend take will be 50 per cent up on last year
- Sunday fireworks spectacular expected to give restaurants around Victoria Harbour a major shot in the arm
The National Day holiday weekend is expected to dish up a massive HK$1.2 billion (US$153 million) boost to Hong Kong’s struggling restaurant sector – a 50 per cent increase compared with last year.
Industry experts predicted business at dining spots along Victoria Harbour and at Chinese restaurants would be especially brisk for the return of the National Day fireworks on Sunday.
But some warned that cost-conscious tourists from mainland China would be looking out for special offers or decide to opt for traditional street snacks instead.
Simon Wong Ka-wo, president of the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades, predicted turnover on National Day alone would be more than HK$400 million, a 20 per cent increase compared with the 2022 holiday.
“Bookings of restaurants along the waterfront are full,” Wong said.
“Mainland travellers will look for more authentic Chinese food and also want to experience the nightlife during this holiday.”
He said total turnover for the first three days of the holiday was expected to reach more than HK$1.2 billion, compared with HK$800 million in the same period last year when the city still had strict coronavirus restrictions in place.
Wong added income generated over the eight-day mainland “golden week” holiday – from September 29 until October 6, which overlaps with the Mid-Autumn Festival – was expected to be HK$2.7 billion.
About 1 million mainland Chinese visitors are expected to visit the city over golden week.
The number of mainland tourists is expected to peak from Saturday to Monday. It is predicted the visitors will start to leave from Tuesday, two days after the October 1 National Day celebrations.
A Post survey of social media site Xiaohongshu found that mainland tourists headed to Hong Kong were on the lookout for more authentic, budget-friendly options including traditional street food and Cantonese sweet soups, which generally cost less than HK$50.
But some users of Xiaohongshu, often called the Chinese Instagram, also recommended high-end eateries with harbour views for the fireworks such as Tosca Di Angelo at the Ritz-Carlton, Kowloon, and the Four Seasons Hotel’s pool terrace in Central.
The big attraction will be the Sunday return of the spectacular fireworks display over Victoria Harbour for the first time in five years.
The government earlier launched a campaign to reinvigorate the city’s nighttime economy, which included bazaars such as the Night Market by the Sea along the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade and Wan Chai’s Waterfront Carnival.
The Wan Chai event will be closed between 5pm and 10.30pm during the holiday fireworks show, but will be open from the end of the fireworks to 2am.
Wong said he wanted to see more programmes and events to boost the hospitality sector, which suffered a double whammy of strict pandemic regulations followed by an exodus of Hongkongers to Shenzhen at weekends, where gourmet dining can be around 40 per cent cheaper, after the restrictions were axed.
“Of course, Shenzhen will be our main competitor, but with the various activities in Hong Kong, we can also attract more mainlanders to visit here,” he said.
Michael Leung Chun-wah, chairman of the Association for Hong Kong Catering Services Management, said business at some Chinese restaurants for the Mid-Autumn Festival on Friday was “ideal” and that bookings were back to pre-pandemic levels.
“The table turnover rate could be up to 1.5 to two for dinner at the Mid-Autumn Festival,” Leung said.
He predicted a 10 to 20 per cent increase in business, boosted by discounts offered by about 1,700 restaurants across the city, for the three-day weekend.
But Leung said he would take a wait-and-see approach on whether business would significantly improve over the mainland’s golden week period.
“Tourists congregate near Tsim Sha Tsui, Causeway Bay and Wan Chai,” he said.
“Whether business will be good in areas such as Tin Shui Wai that have nothing to do with tourism, we will have to see.”
Thomas Woo Chu, managing director of the Hsin Kuang Restaurant group, which has about 15 Chinese restaurants across Hong Kong, said dinner bookings for the Mid-Autumn Festival had fallen by 30 per cent compared with 2022.
Travel experts predicted an outflow of Hongkongers would peak on Friday and Saturday as they took advantage of the holiday to travel.
“Last year, people were trapped in Hong Kong,” Woo said. “Borders opened early this year and people can now travel.”
He also warned that business during the golden week might not be as good as expected.
“Visitors these days are very savvy. They will look out for good deals for food,” he said.
“The economy has not fully recovered yet from the pandemic, people are still very thrifty.”
Nathan Green, group executive chef at Octavo, said Kilo Steakhouse in the K11 Musea mall in Tsim Sha Tsui was fully booked for dinner on Saturday and Sunday night.
“We have a good view of the harbour,” he said, but added the fireworks would not be completely visible from the restaurant.
Octavo’s higher-end Rex Wine and Grill steakhouse in Central was busy at lunchtime on Friday as people celebrated the first day of the holiday weekend.
Green said Rex was about 75 per cent full for Friday night, 25 per cent booked on Saturday for dinner and closed on Sunday.
He said he expected business at Kilo to be about 90 per cent of 2022 figures.
Green added Rex and the group’s Venedia, also in Central, were expected to be up to 60 per cent of last year’s levels.
“Generally, across the board Kowloon is much busier than the Hong Kong Island side, he said.
“I walked around Tsim Sha Tsui last weekend and lots of new little restaurants opened up … it feels Kowloon is having this much bigger revival over Central.”