The number of mainland tourists has dropped slightly but non-mainland arrivals are up as the week-long national day holiday starts, despite the China National Tourism Administration ordering a stop on new tour groups to Hong Kong.
But the tourism industry could begin to feel the impact of Occupy Central next week, industry experts said.
Mainland visitor arrivals in Hong Kong dropped by 1.5 percent to 157,000 on October 1, China’s National Day. Among them, the number of same-day visitors declined about 4 percent to 100,000, Ming Pao Daily reported, citing figures from the Immigration Department.
However, the number of non-mainland visitors increased 9 percent to more than 300,000 compared with last year, the report said.
In fact, the number of mainland tour visitors has increased 3.5 percent to about 24,000 amid a drop in mainland groups owing to the tourism law aimed at combatting zero-fare tours coming into effect on October 1 last year, according to figures provided by industry players.
Overall, the number of inbound visitors is about 190,000, about the same as last year, the report said.
Sam Lau, chairman of the Tourist Guest Houses Federation of Hong Kong, said that rooms are fully booked for the first five days of the golden week. He said many visitors are interested to do “sightseeing” in the areas being occupied by protesters, while others report the Occupy movement did not harm their mood as they can bypass the areas affected.
Less than 10 percent of the tourists have made inquiries about cancelling their booking or postponing room bookings because of the civil disobedience campaign.
Lau also said the National Tourism Administration’s order to stop tour groups from coming to Hong Kong has little impact on the guest house industry as their customers are mostly individual visitors.
But Ricky Tse Kam-ting, chairman of the Hong Kong Inbound Tour Operators Association, is worried that the impact may be felt early next week. In a radio program, he said that the number of mainland tours will drop as much as 70 percent to 80 percent, and the loss in the tourism industry will be “millions per day”.
Michael Wu Siu-ying, chairman of the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong, said that the impact can only be measured after an analysis of the visitor arrivals early next week.
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