Mainland Tourists in Hong Kong: Playing with Numbers

I kind of laughed out loud when I saw this New York Times article. I do respect the New York Times as a reputable and fine news source, but I think in general Western media and perhaps all the English-language media I have come across tends to express comments about Hong Kong that make it seem as if they are speaking based on ignorance and/or misunderstanding. Although I do admit, sometimes, Hong Kongers’ rage-filled comments can come off as hate or xenophobia.

But this sentence from The New York Times was just unacceptable.

One thing the new tourism numbers don’t capture is that many of the visitors from mainland China are day trippers who visit Hong Kong on shopping jaunts, so while they may make up seven out of every 10 visitors, their actual imprint on the territory is probably far less substantial.

“[N]ew tourism numbers” refers to the report that mainlanders accounted for 70% of Hong Kong’s 54 million tourists last year, which would mean that about 37.8 million mainland tourists visited Hong Kong in 2013.

Making a conservative estimate going on the assumption that all of the mainlanders who visited Hong Kong last year were on day trips, some quick calculations reveal that around 37.8 million/365 days = >100,000 different mainland Chinese were in Hong Kong each day, which I believe is quite substantial – accounting for over 1% of Hong Kong’s resident population. But given that most mainland Chinese seem to come on weekends and that more than a few mainlanders spend more than a day in Hong Kong, the percentage figure is probably a few points greater. Even from the standpoint of someone who was just visiting Hong Kong two years ago for a few weeks, it is clear that mainland Chinese have a great and far from insubstantial impact on Hong Kong.

Is it so wrong to want to live in your home without being overwhelmed by the daily influx of tourists?


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