Hong Kong expects a sharp fall in Chinese arrivals for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) amid growing tensions over the influx of visitors from the mainland.
Inquiries on MICE tours are down 30-50 percent from last year, Ming Pao Daily reported Thursday, citing Daisie Sin, an assistant general manager of Hong Kong Wing On Travel Service.
The decline is being blamed on recent protests against Chinese parallel traders and on lingering concern over last year’s democracy demonstrations.
Inquiries held steady last year although one tour group canceled, but this year, the MICE business is facing challenges from growing cross-border tensions, Sin was quoted as saying.
Paul Leung, chairman of the Hong Kong Inbound Tour Operators Association, said MICE groups make preparations earlier than most tourists because of their large size.
These include site inspections well ahead of the visit, but even these have become significantly fewer this time of year, typically a high season for MICE visitors, he said.
Leung said Chinese MICE tourists may have switched to Macau, Bangkok or Singapore.
Tourism lawmaker Yiu Si-wing said business travelers such as MICE tourists might stop coming if they feel unwelcome, unlike parallel traders who will cross into Hong Kong despite efforts by local residents to discourage their presence.
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