Hundreds of tents have reportedly appeared at Ham Tin Wan in Sai Kung as the Labour Day holiday brought an influx of tourists to the city, sparking concerns over the impact on the environment.

Local reporters found mainland companies offering two-day camping tours to Hong Kong advertised at around HK$300 to HK$400 per person. In one ad, posted by a company called “TeamFun,” Ham Tin Wan in Sai Kung was described as “the most beautiful beach in southern China.”

An ad for the Ham Tin Wan tours online. Photo: Sohu screenshot.

According to a webpage advertising the tour on Sohu, the itinerary involves trekking through the Maclehose Trail, camping at Ham Tin Wan, and catching sea urchins. Other activities mentioned included stargazing and watching “bikini [girls] on the beach” while enjoying ice-cold cokes and beers.

The two advertised tour dates were April 29 to April 30, and April 30 to May 1 – coinciding with the three-day weekend China enjoys over Labour Day.

Although the ad reminds participants to take note of the environment and take their trash with them when they leave, a cleaning worker told Apple Daily that – over the past weekend – tourists left behind enough rubbish to fill 700 to 800 trash bags.

‘Heartbroken’

Social activist Benson Tsang said the photos depicting rows of tents on the beach left him heartbroken, as he voiced concern that the tourists would destroy the beauty spot.

“Ham Tin Wan is an extremely beautiful beach in Sai Kung and usually [a visitor] has to undertake a long journey before arriving at the destination, which is why the beautiful environment is well-deserved,” he said in a post on Facebook.

Tsang also questioned whether the tour group broke regulations governing country parks, as only ten tents are meant to be erected in the area.

The official Ham Tim camp site has a capacity of 10 tents, according to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department and police stepped up patrols last May after tourists set up tents on Cheung Chau and Lantau’s Pui O beach.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board said on Monday that tourist numbers rose 8.9 per cent in March to 2.3 million, compared to last year.

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Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.