Not so golden

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By CHAIHUA in Hong Kong grace@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

Tourist in­dus­try chiefs voiced con­cerns on Wednes­day that Hong Kong would con­tinue to suf­fer from shrink­ing main­land tourism af­ter a brief re­bound in July.

With the Na­tional Day hol­i­day (Oct 1-7) just around the cor­ner, tourist in­dus­try chiefs on Wednes­day voiced con­cerns that Hong Kong would con­tinue to suf­fer from shrink­ing main­land vis­i­tors, af­ter a brief re­bound in July, to re­sume the past 12 months of dwin­dling num­bers.

Hong Kong Travel In­dus­try Coun­cil Chair­man Ja­son Wong Chun-tat said the city now re­ceives about 180 tour groups from the main­land ev­ery day. He pro­jected that the num­ber would slightly in­crease to 200 dur­ing the hol­i­day week, down about 30 per­cent year-on-year.

Ac­cord­ing to the HKTIC, the daily av­er­age num­ber of main­land group tours toHong Kong dur­ing pre­vi­ous sev­en­day Na­tional Day hol­i­day was 260 and 300 in 2015 and 2014, re­spec­tively.

As for in­di­vid­ual tourists, book­ing data from Ctrip.com In­ter­na­tional Ltd, a lead­ing on­line travel agency in China, in­di­cate that Seoul has beaten Hong Kong to be­come the num­ber one over­seas des­ti­na­tion for this com­ing golden week.

Vic­tor Chan, chair­man of the Hong Kong Ho­tels As­so­ci­a­tion, said price rates for lo­cal ho­tels had been re­duced by 10 per­cent and book­ings were not as good as those of last year.

How­ever, in­dus­try in­sid­ers foundMa­cao, on the con­trary, was be­com­ing more at­trac­tive to main­land vis­i­tors.

The Hong Kong Eco­nomic Times re­ported 70 per­cent of main­land in­di­vid­ual tourists chose to visit Hong Kong in pre­vi­ous years, but this year 60 per­cent of them turned to Ma­cao.

The amount of time tourists are spend­ing in the two cities is also ex­pected to change. One travel agency man­ager said that tak­ing a five-day trip as an ex­am­ple, some main­land tourists who usu­ally spent only one day in­Ma­cao arenowal­lo­cat­ing four days there.

The man­ager said he be­lieves the open­ing of two new re­sort ho­tels in Ma­cao was prov­ing to be a po­tent lure for many tourists.

Ricky Tse, found­ing pres­i­dent and chair­man of the Hong Kong In­bound Tour Op­er­a­tors As­so­ci­a­tion, said he was con­cerned that Hong Kong was be­ing in­creas­ingly left on the side­lines, asMa­cao con­nected with Shen­zhen, Zhuhai and Hengqin in Guang­dong prov­ince in the var­i­ous pack­age tours on of­fer.

An­a­lysts have no­ticed the trend, say­ing an­other fac­tor is at play. Be­sides Ma­cao, more and more des­ti­na­tions have re­laxed their visa poli­cies — in­clud­ing the United States — in a de­vel­op­ment that is con­tin­u­ing to draw main­land tourists away from Hong Kong, said Wang Yi, a Shen­zhen-based an­a­lyst at Ctrip.

She said many main­lan­ders now asked for a few­more days off to travel fur­ther afield and the United King­dom had be­come a very pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion this year, thanks to the de­pre­ci­a­tion of the pound lead­ing to fall­ing trav­el­ing costs and greater spend­ing power for shop­ping.

Lat­est Ctrip data in­di­cated that the prices of UK travel prod­ucts had de­creased about 20 per­cent com­pared with last Na­tional Day hol­i­day — and half of them were fully booked one month in ad­vance.

de­cline in ho­tel room rates in Hong Kong in prepa­ra­tion for Na­tional Day hol­i­day

LIANG SHENGJIAN / FOR CHINA DAILY

Vis­i­tors en­joy rides at Hong Kong Dis­ney­land. The Hong Kong Eco­nomic Times said that 60 per­cent of main­land in­di­vid­ual vis­i­tors choose Ma­cao and that Hong Kong is no longer their top choice.

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