Hong Kong losing lustre for Chinese tourists

Hong Kong, October 8 :

Hong Kong, which prides itself as a shopper’s paradise, is losing its sheen with Chinese tourists, who have complained about shops here in record numbers, a report stated today.

The revelations come as latest tourist figures for China’s Mid-Autumn Golden Week holiday — one of the peak tourist seasons here — showed that the number of visitors from China had fallen 10 per cent. Meanwhile, the number of Chinese visiting neighbouring casino city Macau during the week-long holiday in China has risen by 15 per cent and outstrips Hong Kong by almost four to one.

The Hong Kong Travel Industry Council trade group said that in the first eight months of the year it had received 400 complaints from Chinese tou-rists about poor treatment in the city’s shops — up by 30 per cent on the whole of 2005, the Sunday Morning Post reported. The council also said there had been an increase in complaints against travel guides, the most common of which were accusations that they had forced tourists to go shopping too often.

This follows a crackdown on tour guides taking kickbacks from stores to bring in more tourist customers. “It is a worrying situation, and it is certain we will address it in a serious manner,” the council’s executive director Joseph Tung said. Hong Kong is facing a serious challenge to its status as one of the world’s most popular tour-ist destinations. Although last year it recorded a reco-rd 25 million visitors, Asia’s second highest after China, figures this year suggest that may be tailing off.

Chronic pollution, scandals at Hong Kong Disneyland, and rising store prices are denting its image overseas.