HONG KONG. The number of Chinese tourists visiting Hong Kong from the mainland leapt 26% in the year to November 2018, according to the Nielsen Annual Mainland Tourist Study.

The opening of both the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge and the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link last year has led to a dramatic surge in domestic Chinese visitors, Nielsen reported.

Hong Kong at sunset. Nielsen reported a surge in visitors from Mainland China last year.
Photo: Simon Zhu/Unsplash.

The study found that the average visitor to Hong Kong spent HK$21,000 (US$2,700), a 3% rise on the previous year. Shopping remained the highest spend sector, accounting for 45% of spending. Accommodation, dining and entertainment were the next largest sectors.

Nielsen said that although average spending increased, Hong Kong faces challenges and needs to differentiate its retail and services offering from Mainland Chinese cities.

“Transforming each trip from a shopping mission to an inspiring travel experience can drive repeat visits. Such experiences can best be offered through the brick-and-mortar channel in Hong Kong,” said Nielsen Hong Kong and Macau Managing Director Michael Lee.

“Unlike other destinations with abundant cultural attractions, developing an inspired travel experience in Hong Kong [will] require a seamless, cross-industries (shopping, accommodation, food and entertainment) collaboration.”

The study also found that almost 30% of Mainland Chinese visitors to Hong Kong make online purchases using overseas e-commerce platforms. Visitors report that their spending in traditional shops is likely to be reduced when products are available online.

Lee said that an “integrated omnichannel strategy” would be necessary to help Hong Kong’s retailers address this challenge.

The Mainland Tourist Study interviewed 1,106 visitors aged between 18 and 65 who had travelled to Hong Kong over the past year. The study was conducted between August and September 2018.