Hong Kong welcomes nearly 13 million visitors in the first six months of 2023, a fraction of pre-COVID-19 numbers

In the first half of 2023, Hong Kong will receive nearly 13 million tourists. However, this figure is less than half of what it was before the outbreak of the new crown epidemic.

Arrive at Hong Kong International Airport. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

Hong Kong received 12,883,879 tourists between January and June, with tourists from mainland China accounting for about 78 percent of the total, according to a statement released by the tourism bureau on Friday.

Provisional data show that in June, the city received 2.75 million tourists, with an average of about 92,000 tourists per day.

“The (Tourism Board) expects Hong Kong’s tourism industry to continue its steady recovery in the second half of this year,” it said.

Golden Week Mainland Tourists Mainlanders Tsim Sha Tsui
On May 2, 2023, tourists in Tsim Sha Tsui. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

Tourism has been hit hard during Covid-19 as the city imposed strict rules requiring tourists to quarantine in hotels at their own expense and undergo multiple Covid tests upon arrival. The city maintained strict measures even as countries around the world eased rules.

The city only lifted its hotel quarantine requirement last September and allowed entry to unvaccinated nonresidents in February. Experts warn that the tourism industry has a long road to recovery.

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The 13 million arrivals over the past six months are a fraction of the pre-coronavirus numbers. In 2018 and the same period in 2019, Hong Kong’s visitor arrivals were 30.6 million and 34.9 million respectively.

For three years, the proportion of mainland Chinese tourists has remained stable between 77% and 80%.

In February, the authorities launched a “Hello Hong Kong” campaign to attract tourists and partnered with local airlines to give away air tickets to Hong Kong. However, the airline industry has warned that a shortage of workers – many of whom have changed careers during Covid-19 – is holding back the industry’s recovery.

Hong Kong Airport Tourist Travel
Hongkong International Airport. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

The Tourism Board stated that it will continue to “deepen” the “Ni Hao Hong Kong” campaign, and organize activities such as the Hong Kong Cyclothon and the Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival scheduled to be held in October.

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