With numbers of mainland visitors to Hong Kong believed to have dropped at least ten per cent from this time last year, the territory has fallen from first to fourth on a list of favourite National Day destinations, accord to mainland media reports.

On a list compiled from travel agencies in Shanghai, Hong Kong slipped behind front-runner Thailand, second-place Japan and South Korea, where the MERS crisis has also brought visitor numbers down.

Thanks to National Day’s proximity to Mid-Autumn Festival this year, employees who asked for another three days off could get a holiday as long as 12 days—the “longest Golden Week in history,” according to Chinese media reports, leaving plenty of time to explore a destination larger and further afield than Hong Kong.

Decline in mainland tourists to Hong Kong. Photo: HKFP.

According to the same report, ten-day holiday packages have taken off this year, with Turkey and Russia cited as the “new darlings” of overseas travellers.

Lawmaker Vincent Fang Kang, representative for the Wholesale & Retail functional constituency in the Legislative Council, has predicted that a year-on-year drop of at least ten percent is expected for mainland arrivals over Golden Week.

Fang said that the relative strength of the Hong Kong Dollar to the Renminbi influenced this trend and, despite the bearish outlook in the industry, no significant layoffs had been seen.

Earlier this month, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying expressed disappointment at the decline in tourist numbers and condemned behaviour such as anti-parallel trading protests that tarnished the hospitable image of Hong Kong.

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Ryan Kilpatrick

Ryan Kilpatrick is a local writer, journalist and editor. Formerly National Online Editor for the That's magazine group in China, his work on the history and politics of the region has earned him the CEFC Award in Modern China Studies and has also appeared in China Economic Review, Asian Studies Review, China Green News, e-International Relations, Shanghaiist and various publications at his alma mater, the University of Hong Kong, where he is currently enrolled in the Master of Journalism programme.