Hong Kong welcomed 91,000 visitors in 2021, a 97.4 percent drop year-on-year, with the number of leisure tourists remaining close to zero.
With anti-epidemic measures and quarantine requirements in place, most inbound travelers came to Hong Kong for family visits or out of necessity, the Hong Kong Tourism Board said.
The preliminary figures showed that with no quarantine-free travel with the mainland, the city saw only 65,000 mainland visitors and 25,000 non-mainland visitors last year, a drop of 97.6 and 97 percent respectively as compared to 2020.
In December last year, the total number of visitors to Hong Kong was less than 10,000, but it has increased by 94.1 percent compared to the same period in 2020.
Among them, 6,475 came from the mainland, a surge of 167 percent year-on-year; and 2,973 came from the rest of the world, increasing 21.7 percent year-on-year.
Tourism sector lawmaker Perry Yiu Pak-leung told The Standard that the huge drop in the number of tourists was expected as the whole tourism sector was in a “frozen” state last year.
“There was no tourist at all and the tourism sector was suffering,” Yiu said.
“We cannot see any hope until the pandemic ends.”
Yiu said the sector is also not optimistic about the tourism business this year as the cross-border quarantine-free travel with the mainland has not been resumed.
“It was originally expected that the border with Guangdong province could be reopened by the end of last year and the tourism sector was planning to resume business by the Lunar New Year,” Yiu said.
“However, with the fifth wave of Covid
-19 outbreak in Hong Kong, we do not think the border can be reopened in the first half of this year.”
Even if the border is reopened, the travel business cannot resume shortly, Yiu said, adding the sector hopes the cross-border travel can resume as soon as possible and they can restore their business this year.
Yiu said the tourism sector relied on local tours last year, including green lifestyle local tours, spend-to-redeem local tours and “cruises to nowhere” trips.
“But we cannot always rely on the local market because local travel is only a small part of our travel business. The help provided by local tours is very limited,” he said.