(Photo: Global Times)
The blow to the tourism industry in Hong Kong continued as the city received only 455 mainland visitors during the May Day holidays: the smallest number in 17 years.
Some 5,900 people entered the city during the first four days of the May 1-5 golden week, of whom nearly 90 percent were Hong Kong residents, according to data released by the Hong Kong immigration department.
Reports said "zero tourist groups from the mainland" visited Hong Kong during the holiday.
By comparison, more than 1.06 million people visited Hong Kong last year, of whom nearly half a million came from the mainland.
Visitors from the mainland need to go through 14 days' quarantine upon arrival in Hong Kong, according to Hong Kong regulations.
In order to restore peace and spur development, former Hong Kong chief executives Tung Chee-hwa and Leung Chun-ying launched the Hong Kong Coalition on Tuesday, an alliance that aims to reinvigorate the Hong Kong economy and restore the rule of law to boost investors' and law enforcers' confidence in the city.
The flow of visitors to Hong Kong was significantly less at stores selling jewelry, gift shops in Hong Kong's Mong Kok, Causeway Bay and other major business districts, Chinese mainland media outlet National Business Daily reported.
These districts were major flashpoints during the extradition bill protests that severely damaged the city's economy and social security over the past months, the paper noted.
The social unrest in Hong Kong "greatly discouraged" mainland tourists from visiting the island, Li Xiaobing, a Hong Kong studies expert at Nankai University in Tianjin, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
The instability hurt the confidence of the world in the Hong Kong economy, Li said.
A shop owner in Kowloon, surnamed Wong, told the Global Times that he had a daily turnover of HK$5,000 to HK$6,000 during the May Day holiday last year due to a large number of mainland tourists, but now he is struggling to cope with the lack of daily sales.
"Hong Kong's tourism business and people are on the verge of collapse," Timothy Chui Ting-pong, Hong Kong Tourism Association executive director, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
Cui noted that compared with last year, the tourism industry in Hong Kong suffered a loss of 100% during the May Day holiday this year. If quantified, losses to the tourism, retail and transport sectors are estimated at more than HK$10 billion over the May Day period.
Travelers account for a third of Hong Kong's total retail spending, mainly due to discretionary travel and visitor spending, Chui said. "I cannot imagine the huge impact on Hong Kong if passenger spending were to disappear permanently."