Mainland tourist arrivals to Chinese SARs expected to rise in 2007


Beijing – The number of Chinese mainland tourists to Hong Kong and Macao, the country’s two Special Administrative Regions (SAR), was expected to grow by 10 percent and 20 percent, respectively, in 2007, the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) said on Friday.

With the extension of the “Individual Visitor Scheme” which allows residents of 49 mainland cities to visit the two SARs in their individual capacity, visitor arrivals to Hong Kong and Macao were expected to reach 15.5 million and 12 million, respectively, last year, CNTA said.

Boosted by tourism spending, retail sales in Hong Kong rose 19.5 percent in November from the same period a year earlier, according to the Census and Statistics Department of Hong Kong.

Earlier this month, a local government spokesman said this was the sixth consecutive month of double-digit, year-on-year growth in volume terms.

Macao’s retail sales reached 3.61 billion patacas (451 million U.S. dollars) in the third quarter, up 37 percent over the same period a year earlier, according to the latest official statistics.

In addition, CNTA promoted exchanges in the tourism industry between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan. Since 2006, six meetings have been held between the two sides in a bid to open the Taiwan tourism market.

“We will keep pushing forward exchange and cooperation with Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan to create more favorable conditions for mainland tourists in cross-Strait sightseeing,” said Shao Qiwei, CNTA director.

Last year, the mainland allowed Taiwan residents to apply for practice licenses of 15 professional jobs, such as physicians, architects and accountants, among others. About 4.62 million people from Taiwan visited the mainland, a year-on-year rise of 4.9 percent, according to official data.