(Yicai Global) Aug. 2 -- The number of tourists to Hong Kong in the first half year was almost 31 million, up more than 10 percent over last year to hit a new high since 2003, data from Hong Kong’s tourism agency published yesterday show.
Ranks of mainland tourists have risen steeply to about 24 million, up 13.4 percent per year, state Xinhua News Agency reported.
The cresting mainland tourist wave has brought huge economic benefits to several Hong Kong sectors, noted Yao Sirong, a member of the Tourism Constituency of the special administrative region’s Legislative Council. Some 270,000 are employed in Hong Kong’s tourist field, while the number in retail and catering industries is nearly 500,000.
The recovery in tourism has amped up the development of retail and catering, pushing Hong Kong’s jobless rate down to 2.9 percent, under 3.0 percent for first time in two decades.
“The increase of mainland tourists in the first half picked up from the second half of last year’s uptick and the rise has been sustained ever since. Growth in June even reached 17.3 percent, thanks to the stable mainland economy over the last two years,” Xue Junsheng, chief economist with Hang Seng Bank, told Xinhua.
China’s economy entered the New Normal of more sluggish growth in the 2015-2016 era, when downward pressure sapped mainland residents’ willingness to travel, which is one reason the ranks of tourists to Hong Kong shrank during the same period, Xue added.
News reports of Hongkongers’ overbearing behavior toward mainlanders also faded away in last year’s second half, Yao also noted, and this has prompted more travelers to consider the region as their destination, thus fueling the recovery of its tourism.
Editor: Ben Armour