Mainland Chinese make only day trips to Hong Kong as city loses allure

Mainland Chinese make only day trips to Hong Kong as city loses allure
Mainland Chinese make only day trips to Hong Kong as city loses allure

“Hong Kong’s attractiveness has overall weakened,” said Dicky Yip Chi-wai, the president of the Hong Kong Tourism Practitioners’ Union. “It used to be a shopping paradise, but now people can buy the same things on the mainland.”

On mainland social media platforms Xiaohongshu, terms such as “Hong Kong in a Day” and “Tourist Special Forces ” have gone viral, with posts containing the former amassing more than 54 million views. Photo: Sun Yeung

After the Covid-19 pandemic, he observed a rise in day trips where tourists would arrive in the city early in the morning and head back to the mainland that same night.

“They would come and walk around the city instead of really spending money here,” he said.

On mainland social media platforms Xiaohongshu, terms such as “Hong Kong in a Day” and “Tourist Special Forces ” have gone viral, with posts containing the former amassing more than 54 million views.

Popular posts contain detailed maps and itineraries, with users swapping suggestions on how to see the city’s key attractions in under 24 hours while spending as little as 300 yuan (US$42). Suggestions include saving on transport by taking the tram or eating at local cha chaan teng.

At around 3pm in Central on Monday, Shenzhen resident Alice Zhang Xiaoqing was reading an advertisement for an exhibition at the nearby Tai Kwun heritage and arts centre.

“It’s free!” the 22-year-old shouted, as she clutched a friend’s hand as the pair ran up the escalators. “Let’s go, let’s go!”

Zhang, a recent graduate who works in marketing, was visiting the city for the first time and had decided to simply walk around to see “scenery that was different from the mainland”, she said.

But even though she had only arrived at around 10am, she would be returning to Shenzhen just 12 hours later, she added.

“One reason is because the hotels are so expensive here,” she said. “And I don’t think there is much else to see to stay longer.”

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Nearby, married couple Jenny Liu, 36, and Jeffrey Zhao, 33, were busy showing their three-year-old daughter and her grandparents around the city for the first time.

The family was visiting from Huizhou in neighbouring Guangdong province and had arrived that morning via Shenzhen. But they too said they would head back to the mainland later in the evening and would only spend the day walking around rather than shopping.

“The Hong Kong dollar exchange rate is pretty expensive, so it’s not a good place to shop these days,” Liu, an engineering consultant, said. “If we want to shop, we can go to Hainan and buy things cheaper there.”

Hainan, an island province off the mainland’s southern coast dubbed “China’s Hawaii,” has managed to grab much of Hong Kong’s once-unique shopping allure.

Mainland residents are able to spend up to 100,000 yuan per year on tax-free shopping on the island, compared with just 5,000 yuan in Hong Kong per entry.

Simon Lee Siu-po, an honorary fellow at the Asia-Pacific Institute of Business at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the mainland’s poor economy had also played a role in dissuading visitors.

“[Mainland] China is still facing challenges, so tourists are spending their money wisely,” he said. “They would rather take a day trip to Hong Kong rather than stay for two or three days.”

Lee said that convenient travel options such as the West Kowloon high-speed rail terminus and MTR lines gave mainland visitors many ways to pop in and out of the city, while neighbouring Shenzhen offered a cheaper place to stay.

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A Post check of hotel prices revealed that a deluxe king room at the five-star Ritz Carlton Hong Kong in West Kowloon cost about HK$4,050 a night. Just across the border at the Ritz Carlton Shenzhen, a similar room would cost HK$1,210.

Lee added that while neighbouring Macau offered unique attractions including Portuguese cuisine, condensed historical areas and gleaming casinos, many of Hong Kong’s allures were readily available on the mainland for less.

“Hong Kong is too expensive,” he said.

Source: scmp.com

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