During the Chinese Labor Day holiday, the first national holiday since China reopened from COVID-19 lockdown, the amount of Chinese mainland travelers to Hong Kong was shockingly low. According to statistics released by the Immigration Department of Hong Kong, the first three days of the five-day holiday, which started on May 1, reported only 361 incoming Chinese mainland visitors. It’s a stark difference from a year ago, when 839,000 visitors from the mainland traveled to Hong Kong during the first three days of the holiday, that is, before the region’s protests against Beijing’s extradition bill started last June.
It’s dangerous to put too much weight into the incredibly low number of outbound mainland Chinese travelers to Hong Kong for the holiday without first looking at the region’s current in-bound travel restrictions.
Given the ongoing pandemic, Hong Kong has imposed a harsh travel restriction for all in-bound visitors since February, which requires them to self-quarantine for 14 days by law. The restriction is scheduled to lift on June 8. While a mainland shopper can only be issued a seven-day tourist visa, they cannot even purchase a plane ticket without proving to the airline that they have a visa that is for longer than 14 days, as exemplified on Cathay Pacific’s website. Thus, the 361 travelers were more likely to be mainlanders heading back to Hong Kong for work and not the past throng of mainland shoppers looking for deals.