Hong Kong should extend a warmer welcome to mainland visitors

Ken Chu says the city needs to learn why, today, more mainland Chinese prefer other destinations

by Ken Chu / Feb 28, 2016 / South China Morning Post

In recent months, discussions with friends and business partners, news reports and online postings all appear to suggest a growing trend of mainland Chinese visiting Thailand, South Korea and Japan over Hong

Courtesy: SCMP.COM
Courtesy: SCMP.COM

Kong and Europe, especially during the Lunar New Year holidays. Some analysts observe that mainland visitors were driven away from Hong Kong by growing hostility towards them and social unrest such as Occupy Central and the riot in Mong Kok.

The number of mainland tourists going to Thailand has skyrocketed in the past five years, from 1.72 million in 2011 to 7.93 million in 2015, a whopping 360 per cent rise. The number visiting South Korea has also risen significantly, from 2.83 million in 2011 to 6.11 million last year. Japan saw the largest increase over the same period, from 1.04 million to 4.99 million, a surge of 380 per cent.

Reports of falling mainland visitors should not be treated as a one-off aberration

The reasons for their popularity are abundantly clear. Seoul and Tokyo enjoy geographical advantages while Thailand is famed for the hospitality of its people and silky white sandy beaches. According to Chinese tour agencies, Thailand was the No 1 destination for mainlanders in 2015, followed by South Korea and Tokyo.

Realising tourism makes an important contribution to the economy, Thailand places a strong emphasis on tourism infrastructure and has launched campaigns to showcase how friendly Thais are towards foreign travellers. Since late 2015, the Thai government has granted 60-day visas on arrival to mainland tourists to make its country an even more attractive destination. Read more…

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