The number of tourists arriving in Hong Kong in January was 93 percent less than pre-pandemic levels as the final weeks of Covid travel restrictions kept away many visitors from mainland China, the city’s top source of visitors.
The financial hub reported more than 498,000 visitor arrivals last month, compared with about 6.8 million in the same month in 2019. The January figure was three times higher than December’s tally, reflecting mainland China’s shift to easing the harshest of its Covid
Still, a number of rules remained in place in January that likely constrained visitor flows, including during the Lunar New Year, which fell in the latter part of the month. There was a daily quota on the number of people traveling to Hong Kong from mainland China and travelers were required to have a negative Covid
test result within 48 hours of their departure.
The border between Hong Kong and mainland China fully reopened in early February after an almost three-year closure, paving the way for the financial hub to rebuild its connection and revive its role as an important business gateway between the country and the world.
Hong Kong is also rolling out the red carpet to try and entice tourists now that it’s dismantled all major pandemic measures except mandatory mask wearing. Officials this month launched a HK$2 billion (US$255 million) campaign, including distributing more than 500,000 free air tickets this year, to attract visitors.
The push to revive the city’s allure follows its third economic contraction in four years, as well as a wave of residents departing since 2020 as pandemic curbs and national laws restricted activities. Natixis SA estimates the economy lost US$27 billion in potential growth due to the effects of the pandemic and strict Covid
curbs, though economists predict Hong Kong is headed for an expansion this year.