Hong Kong is expected to record more than 600,000 mainland Chinese visitors in total by the end of the “Golden Week” holiday, Chief Executive John Lee predicted as he hailed the city’s “diverse appeal” to tourists.

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Tourists in Hong Kong on May 2, 2023. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

The number of arrivals in Hong Kong on Saturday and Sunday totalled more than 760,000, as China’s extended national break around the Labour Day began, the city’s leader revealed at a press briefing held on Tuesday. Among the entries, more than 320,000 were made by mainland visitors.

The streets in Hong Kong were filled with tourists from across the border over the long weekend, with dozens of people lined up at the Star Ferry pier in Tsim Sha Tsui to buy tokens for the signature cross-harbour ride, an HKFP reporter observed on Monday.

China’s week-long Golden Week holidays take place three times a year, with the Labour Day break reintroduced in 2019.

Lee forecasted on Tuesday the city would see more than 600,000 mainland visitors in total when the five-day break concludes on Wednesday. He said the preferences of visitors was diverse, ranging from shopping districts to heritage sites, theme parks and scenic outlying areas.

The M+ museum saw 19,000 admissions on Sunday, while the number of admissions of the Palace Museum stood at 7,300. It marked the highest number of admissions since it opened in July last year.

“It fully shows the diverse appeal and soft power of Hong Kong,” Lee said.

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John Lee on May 1, 2023. Photo: Lea Mok/HKFP.

The chief executive went on to say that the situation in To Kwa Wan and Hung Hom “improved greatly” during the golden week holiday with tour groups dining in other districts. Residents in the two neighbourhoods in Kowloon previously complained that the streets were blocked by tour groups waiting outside restaurants and shops.

The Hong Kong leader thanked the tourism sector and relevant authorities for their effort and collaboration to allow tourists enjoy their visit in Hong Kong and helping the city maintain a welcoming image to visitors.

Lee also mentioned he saw many “happy faces” on Hongkongers over the long weekend and praised the success of a series of events under the “Happy Hong Kong” campaign, which aimed to boost residents’ mood and the economy.

Hong Kong’s economy grew by 2.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2023, reversing the 4.1 per cent contraction recorded in the previous quarter, the chief executive revealed on Tuesday. While the city’s exports continued to dip in the first quarter, Lee said he believed the local economy will improve in the next quarter, with China’s rapid economic boost and a revival of the city’s aviation capacity.

“The economy this year will definitely be better than last year,” Lee said.

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Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.