Hong Kong’s tourism minister has said he expects more than 700 tour groups from mainland China will visit the city over the eight-day National Day break, noting that such arrivals typically account for only five per cent of all tourists from across the border.

Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism Kevin Yeung Yun-hung on Saturday also said the city was well prepared for an influx of tourists over the eight-day “golden week” holiday, urging residents to play their part as friendly hosts.

About 122,877 mainland visitors arrived in Hong Kong on Friday, the first day of the break. The Travel Industry Council earlier estimated about 1 million tourists from across the border would visit the city during the entire holiday, amounting to 70 per cent of pre-pandemic levels for the same period.

Some 122,877 mainland visitors arrived in Hong Kong on Friday, the first day of the break. Photo: Yik Yeung-man

Yeung told a radio programme that more than 700 mainland tour groups were expected to arrive in the city in the coming days, compared with some 453 comprising about 14,000 people who visited Hong Kong over the Labour Day golden week in May.

The National Day holiday on the mainland will last until October 6. In Hong Kong, it is a one-day public holiday that falls on Monday.

Residents in To Kwa Wan had previously complained about tour groups gathering outside restaurants and shops in the neighbourhood. Yeung assured crowd control measures were already in place and authorities would keep a close eye on the situation.

But he said recent figures showed mainland visitors had shifted away from packaged tours.

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“Independent visitors accounted for more than 90 per cent of mainland arrivals and it’s only about five per cent for tour groups,” Yeung said. “With more people travelling independently, we need all Hong Kong residents to serve tourists well together.”

He said the shift to independent travel had made local attractions that showed “how we live and where we go” more popular, adding that a recent Tourism Board promotion focusing on culture and nature in the city had garnered about 200 million views on Xiaohongshu, the mainland’s Instagram-like social media platform.

The minister said while he hoped the government’s “Hong Kong Night Vibes” campaign aimed at revitalising the after-dark economy would boost tourism, he had observed that many attractions popular among mainland travellers had built up momentum organically.

The government has launched a “Hong Kong Night Vibes” campaign aimed at revitalising the after-dark economy. Photo: Elson Li

“The reason why Sham Shui Po is becoming a [tourist hotspot] is because many local young people have been visiting cafes with ‘hipster’ vibes. Hong Kong people have always made good use of the city’s attractions,” Yeung said.

But independent mainland travellers opting for smaller local eateries over larger restaurants had contributed to a 25 per cent drop in per-head spending by tourists on food in the city compared with pre-pandemic levels, said Simon Wong Ka-wo, president of the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades.

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Wong told a TV programme that the National Day fireworks on Sunday night – the first since 2018 – could lead to a 20 per cent boost in business for eateries on both sides of the Victoria Harbour.

He also expressed confidence that a string of night activities would convince Hongkongers to spend more.

“Local residents who remain in Hong Kong will go out to spend money if they are in a happy mood, building up the good vibes,” he said.