The number of mainland Chinese visitors to Hong Kong during the Lunar New Year holidays fell for the first time in about 20 years as they have felt increasingly unwelcome amid political unrest in the city.
The drop comes as Hong Kong’s leader Leung Chun-ying said he would raise the issue of large numbers of mainland Chinese visitors with Beijing at a parliamentary meeting next month.
“If we have to restrict or decrease the numbers of mainland Chinese coming to Hong Kong then we must continue to discuss this with (China)…this is a difficult task,” he said.
The drop, though a mild 0.3 percent over the first three days of the holiday, is the first decrease in Lunar New Year arrivals from China in about two decades, according to a major travel industry group, and could presage longer term decreases that could impact the city’s economy.
“It’s alarming,” said Joseph Tung, the Executive Director of Hong Kong’s Travel Industry Council.
Over 40 million mainland tourists streamed into Hong Kong last year, spending freely in luxury shops, malls, restaurants and hotels, as well as emptying local stores of daily necessities such as baby milk formula and cosmetics.
Read more at Channel News Asia.