Tour groups to Hong Kong from the mainland were down by a third in February compared to the same month last year, and the downtrend intensified further this month, Sing Tao Daily reported.
Last month, the city had around 270 tour groups on average per day from the mainland, down 33 percent over the same period in 2014, according to the report.
In early March, the Chinese tour groups fell further in number, averaging just around 170 groups per day, the report said.
The March figure represents a decline of over 60 percent compared to the same period last year.
The data pertains to tours that involve at least one night’s stay in Hong Kong, meaning that it excludes day-trippers.
Amid the decline in group tours from China, hotels in Hong Kong have seen their income drop by up to 30 percent compared to a year ago, legislator Yiu Si-wing, who is a director at China Travel Service, was quoted as saying.
Joseph Tung, executive director of the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong (TICHK) said the industry is set to endure a tough year, especially given the various protests seen recently against parallel-goods traders.
The protests could prompt more mainlanders to cancel or put off Hong Kong travel plans, he said.
According to TICHK, January saw a total of more than 11,000 tour groups from the mainland, an increase of 32 percent over the same month in 2014. However, the number nosedived to just 7,751 in February.
Factoring in the Chinese New Year holiday, the total number of tour groups during January and February was down 4.5 percent over the corresponding period last year.
The decline seen in February was a rare phenomenon, Tung said, noting that tour group numbers usually don’t drop during the month.
Buoyed by the more favorable exchange rates, some mainland tourists may have opted to travel to Japan, South Korea, the US as well as some European countries.
Yiu, meanwhile, said the central government may look into the possibility of opening up more places — such as Qingdao, Harbin and Xian – for the solo visitor scheme, even as some curbs are put on unlimited travel visa arrangements in some Chinese provinces and cities.