|HONG KONG, May 6 (Xinhua) -- About 740 million people visited Hong Kong in the first quarter of 2009, a year-on-year rise of 1.8 percent, Hong Kong Tourism Board said here Wednesday.
About 245 million people visited Hong Kong in March, 1.7 percent more than the same month in 2008.
The tourism industry had a positive start to the year, driven by growth in mainland arrivals. However the outlook remains highly volatile given the continued impact of the financial crisis and the threat of the Influenza A/H1N1.
In March the Chinese mainland was the best performing of all long- and short-haul market regions, with arrivals growing 13.3 percent to 144 million. Cumulatively, mainland arrivals totaled 468 million in the first quarter, up 12.6 percent on a year earlier.
All long-haul regions continued their declining trend from the last quarter of 2008 and registered double-digit decreases, due to low consumer confidence amid the economic turmoil.
As for short-haul regions, all, except the Chinese mainland, registered shortfalls in arrivals in the first quarter. In particular, arrivals from North Asia dropped 20.7 percent, as a result of the weakened won currency and poor travel sentiments in the Republic of Korea.
Arrivals from Taiwan also declined 9.2 percent as the impact of mainland-Taiwan direct links became increasingly apparent.