At least 45 mainland tourists were found to have camped out at Tung Wan Beach in Cheung Chau and a camp site in Pui O on Lantau Island for two nights during the May Day holiday to avoid paying for accommodation, Apple Daily reports.
Police have since increased patrols on camp sites.
They found four mainland tourists camping out in a park on Cheung Chau Island, and asked them to leave immediately.
According to Headline Daily, more than 380,000 mainland tourists flocked to Hong Kong during the three-day holiday, representing an eight-year high and a 5.7 percent increase over last year.
Apple Daily learned that many mainland travel websites are promoting camping as an alternative to expensive hotel stays in Hong Kong.
Free camping sites such as those in Pui O and Ham Tin Wan in Sai Kung are referred to as “five-star” on these websites.
Mainland tour organizers collect 200 to 300 yuan (US$29 to US$43) per tourist for the camp site package, while tents could be rented for 20 yuan in Guangzhou, the report said.
Apple Daily reporters found that the Pui O camp site was full on Labor Day with the majority of campers being mainlanders.
The Pui O site is being promoted on mainland websites as sanitary, safe and scenic, and is widely popular among mainland backpackers.
A search for “Hong Kong” and “camping” on Weibo would return many articles on how to travel to Hong Kong on the cheap via camping, Headline Daily said.
A mainland netizen commented that traveling to Hong Kong will be expensive if one books a hotel room, and recommended instead that travelers stay in camp sites where facilities are clean and free.
Islands District Councillor Amy Yung warned that overcrowded camp site could pose safety hazards.
She urged the Leisure and Cultural Services Department to limit the number of tents allowed at camp sites and prioritize bookings by Hong Kong citizens to prevent abuse by large-scale commercial camping activities.
The government has proposed to add HK$243 million to the budget for tourism promotion, hk01.com reported.
Of the amount, HK$12 million will be used to support activities that highlight the local culture and promote tourism, while another HK$5 million will be earmarked for eco-tourism.
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