Lifting the lid on the spending power of Chinese tourists

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The Independent Travel

These are heady days for tourism in Hong Kong with records being broken in all sorts of categories.

And local tourism chiefs have this week added to the excitement, releasing figures that show just who spends what when they do come to town.

Hong Kong saw more than 36 million people arrive in 2010 - an all-time record - and March 31 even saw the mark broken for the most number of flight movements in and out of town.

There were 983 flights into Hong Kong on that date, which beat the 973 which touched down on December 17 last year. Authorities put the number down to the "robust economy in the region" but everyone knows what they really mean is the robust economy just a little to the north of here.

And so, as impressive as the figures are, it should come as little surprise to hear from the Hong Kong Tourism Board that Chinese visitors to town are the biggest spenders, forking over on average HK$7,454 (675 euros) per overnight stay.

That compares to the spending of the average overnight stayer - HK$6,728 (610 euros) - and comes in front of the other "top spenders" on the HKTB list, visitors from Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific, who spend on average HK$7,050 (639 euros).

Overall, tourist spending in Hong Kong added an estimated HK$210 billion (19 billion euros) to the local economy last year - again, a record - but it seems a small group of those visitors were doing a whole lot of the spending. And, again, they were visitors from just across the border.

According to the HKTB, 1.5 percent (or 900) of the estimated 60,000 Chinese tourists who come to town each day spend upwards of HK$50,000 (4,351 euros). That's not many people, you may think, until you realize that 22.7 million mainland Chinese came to Hong Kong last year - so that 1.5 percent of daily visitors actually injected an estimated HK$17 billion (1.5 billion euros) into the town.

According to a report released last year by analysts Oxford Economics (, international travelers from the United States spent the most overall on overnight stays globally - averaging US$1,815 (1,280 euros) per trip - while the average spent on overnight stays was US$1,208 (851 euros).

Hey, big spenders ...

Overnight spending in Hong Kong:

1. Mainland China, HK$7,454 (675 euros)
2. Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific HK$7,050 (639 euros)
3. Europe, Africa and the Middle East HK$6,674 (605 euros)
4. The Americas HK$6,476 (587 euros)
5. South and Southeast Asia HK$5,251 (476 euros)
6. Taiwan HK$5,197 (471 euros)
7. North Asia HK$4,976 (451 euros).