‘Not bad – despite rains’

Some 800,000 mainland tourists visited Hong Kong during the Labor Day golden week that ended yesterday, spending HK$2 billion, Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism Kevin Yeung Yun-hung has estimated.

Around 675,000 mainlanders crossed over on the first four days of the five-day holiday.

Speaking on radio yesterday, Yeung said Guangdong was rainy over the past few days and some visitors might have delayed their travel plans. But many could have come yesterday as the weather improved.

“It was rainy over the past golden week holiday. The unstable weather not only affected Hong Kong but [also] the whole Guangdong province, and [this] might have made some tourists delay their trip,” Yeung said.

“But the overall tourism situation was not bad, and I believe the tourist count would be similar to our earlier estimate [of 800,000], which would bring HK$2 billion in consumption to Hong Kong.”

He said some 560 tour groups visited as of Saturday morning and many restaurants and stores in popular areas benefited from the crowds.

“We have heard that merchants in popular areas had seen a 20 to 30 percent increase in business, which is good… But the benefits brought by mainland tourists might not have covered every spot in Hong Kong,” he said.

Yeung said visitors are now interested in in-depth tourism and would visit different districts, adding local merchants could launch special offers for them to further boost consumption.

He said the pyrotechnic display over Victoria Harbour on May 1 received positive feedback and brought economic benefits.

Many mainlanders returned home by high-speed rail yesterday and said they enjoyed their stay, despite some of them having been forced to cancel a few outdoor trips due to heavy rains.

A father of two from Changsha, Liu, said they stayed or four days but missed many sightseeing spots because of the weather.

“We walked around the streets on the first two days and went to Disneyland yesterday. But we skipped many attractions as well as the [pyrotechnic] display due to the rain. It’s a pity,” he said.

But Liu said his family may visit Hong Kong again, adding their trip “cost more than 10,000 yuan (HK$11,047), which was affordable.”

A tourist from Chengdu, Zheng, said she stayed for two days with her friend and their travel plan was not affected by the weather.

“We visited almost all signature tourism spots in Hong Kong,” she said. “We’re tired as we got up early everyday and stayed up late every night.”

Shenzhen border authorities said more than 2.67 million people crossed the border checkpoints on the first four days of the holiday, including 1.27 million Hong Kong and Macau residents.

The borders were expected to see a peak of cross-border travelers yesterday, as the last MTR train from Admiralty to Lo Wu station departed at 11.32pm – a 30-minute delay compared to normal days.

wallis.wang@singtaonewscorp.com

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