The number of mainland visitors to Hong Kong under the individual visit scheme has dropped 10 percent in the first 28 days of June from a year earlier after the central government restricted visas from the neighboring city of Shenzhen to once a week in April.
The decline in arrivals accelerated from a 5 percent fall in May, Sing Tao Daily reported on Monday.
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So Kam-leung said Hong Kong’s travel industry is facing stiffer competition from neighboring regions, but noted that the overall impact of the new visa policy remains to be seen as it has been implemented for only three months.
During the three months since April, arrivals from mainland China grew 90 percent year on year in Japan and Thailand, 60 percent in Vietnam and 30 percent in South Korea, So said.
He said visa relaxation and falling currencies contributed to the rise in the number of mainland visitors to those countries.
So said Hong Kong should hold more events to attract visitors, and while increasing tourism resources, the government will continue to monitor the impact of the new visa policy on the city’s retail, catering and hotel businesses.
Caroline Mak Shui-king, president of the Hong Kong Retail Management Association, said the local retail industry has yet to recover significantly from two straight years of negative growth even after stores cut prices to boost sales.
Mak sees dimmer prospects for retailers in the second half of the year.
The association, however, has not yet evaluated the impact of the once-a-week visa policy on the sector, adding that the effect would only emerge after about six months of implementation.
– Contact us at [email protected]