Numbers of visitors to HK swell over May Day holidays

Better services, new attractions bring in 360,000 mainland tourists in 2 days

Tourists pack the Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui on May 2, 2024, the second day of a five-day May Day holiday enjoyed by the Chinese mainland. (ANDY CHONG / CHINA DAILY)

More than 360,000 Chinese mainland tourists flocked to Hong Kong on the first two days of the May Day break, looking for city walks, gourmet dining, hiking, and other unique experiences.

The vacationers were also treated to thoughtful assistance, convenient electronic payment methods, more frequent public transportation, and a spectacular fireworks show.

Hong Kong saw over 800,000 entry and exit travelers, including 180,000 from the mainland, on Wednesday, which was Labour Day — a Hong Kong public holiday, and the start of a five-day break on the mainland.

Another 186,000 mainland tourists entered the city as of 9 pm on Thursday.

Various activities are taking place in Hong Kong during the May Day break, including a fireworks show held on Wednesday night, the Hong Kong Pop Culture Festival 2024, and a scripture exhibition commemorating the late literary giant Louis Cha Leung-yung, also known as Jin Yong.

On Thursday morning, the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line crossing, which is connected to Shenzhen’s Futian checkpoint, was packed with visitors waiting to board buses and MTR trains.

Employees of payment-service provider Alipay HK stood at the concourse, handing out leaflets to teach passengers how to use their mainland Alipay accounts to pay their train fare. Octopus representatives were also present to help tourists top up their cards and provide transfer advice.

A woman surnamed Wang, who brought her 5-year old daughter to Hong Kong for a one-day trip, planned to visit the K11 art mall, and to ride the 136-year-old Star Ferry.

MTR Corp and bus operators have enhanced services during the break to accommodate the influx of tourists.

Some arrived in the city by bullet trains, including Li and Luo, a young couple from Hangzhou who planned to stay in Hong Kong for two days. “The employees at the high-speed rail station did well in guiding the flow of people, which reduced our time waiting in line,” Luo said.

The pair said they mainly come to feel the culture of the city, instead of just shopping or exploring delicious food.

A group of hikers from Guangzhou who appeared at the West Kowloon Station said they would spend three days in the city, primarily to attempt stretches of the MacLehose Trail.

Some food shops and restaurants in the station have launched a promotion campaign that provides coupons for customers using electronic payment. Signs in the station told visitors where to get Octopus and SIM cards.

At Tsim Sha Tsui’s Avenue of Stars, a popular attraction among mainland people, tourists posed for photos to save memories of their vacations.

Chen Qing, a 24-year-old media professional from Shanghai, said this was her first time in Hong Kong, and so the city is totally fresh to her.

Before leaving for Macao, Chen said she particularly enjoyed the double-deckers because her hometown, Shanghai, no longer has them. Chen praised Hong Kong for preserving its nostalgic elements.

Another couple, Zhang Yuzhe and Wang Ting, chose the waterfront as the last stop of their three-day Hong Kong trip before they took a high-speed train back to Xiamen, Fujian province.

Zhang said it is now very convenient to travel in the city using public transportation, now that electronic payments are widely accepted on MTR trains. Their only regret was that they didn’t find the best viewing spot for the fireworks display on Wednesday, Wang said.

A man surnamed Li from Southwest China’s Guizhou province caught the attention of many with his ethnic-minority attire. He said he wants to promote his homeland by wearing costumes, hoping more Hong Kong and Macao residents will visit Guizhou and appreciate its local attractions.

Timothy Chui Ting-pong, executive director of the Hong Kong Tourism Association, told a radio program on Thursday that the number of mainland visitors on May Day met expectations. He believes the number would have been higher if the weather had been better.

Local hotel group Peninsula Hong Kong said reservations for dining and accommodation from mainland guests have been gradually increasing since the beginning of April, following a similar pattern in the years before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Li Xiaoyun contributed to this story.


Source: China Daily [2024-05-03]