Hong Kong visitor arrivals surpass 10m in first five months: tourist board
Published: Jun 04, 2023 09:39 PM
A view of Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong Photo: VCG

A view of Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong Photo: VCG

The number of visitors to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) surpassed 10 million people in the first five months of 2023, the Global Times learned from the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB). 

It is expected that the prospects of Hong Kong's tourism recovery will be bright, with an estimated 26 million visitors for the whole year.

The robust rebound in the tourism sector would offer a strong buttress to the recovery of the Hong Kong economy, which has exhibited bright spots in key sectors, yet will still face external risks and challenges throughout the year. 

Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said on Sunday that supporting local demand and spending is the city's strategy in the short- and medium-term, especially in the first half, as a key way to stabilize the economy.

In April and May, visitor arrivals stood at more than 50 percent of the pre-pandemic level, compared with about 30-40 percent in the February-March period, according to a statement the HKTB sent to the Global Times on Sunday. 

In particular, visitors from the Chinese mainland and Southeast Asia in May bounced to more than 60 percent of the pre-pandemic level. More mainland tourists travelled to Hong Kong via high-speed railways, the statement showed. 

The HKTB said that it will cooperate with Chinese mainland travel platforms in mid-July, and promote high-speed railway tourism for the Dragon Boat Festival holidays and summer vacations. 

Chan said on his weekly blog on Sunday that he was optimistic that more tourists would return to Hong Kong as the aviation industry was actively expanding its workforce.

The rebound of Hong Kong's tourism sector is in line with reviving momentum in other industries. Retail sales and restaurant receipts in Hong Kong were back to 90 percent of the pre-virus levels. "Retail sales started off on an upbeat note in the first quarter, but the growth slowed down in April. Nevertheless it cushioned the negative impact of export softness," he said. 

The Hong Kong government will give out consumption vouchers of up to HK$5,000 ($638) for eligible residents this year. The second batch of coupons will be distributed on July 16. The financial secretary said that the vouchers will inject almost HK$30 billion into the economy.

Chan also flagged several challenges the HKSAR faces, including weak overseas demand and global supply chain disruption, which will weigh on the city's exports. 

Meanwhile, the US is destroying the multilateral system and trade rules, with the WTO at the core, and this is not conducive to the global economic recovery. 

Observers believe that as the city leverages its unique role as a "super connector" between China and the rest of the world, its economic prospects could further improve. 
Normal travel between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland fully resumed in February.

Hong Kong's GDP grew 2.7 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, government data showed. 

Global Times