Tourism officials from the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong will hold high-level talks in the special administrative region, where shop owners have seen frosty sales.
Further trouble lies ahead, as prospects for mainland visitors during the New Year and Chinese New Year holidays remain bleak, said Joseph Tung, executive director of the Travel Industry Council in Hong Kong.
Delegates from the Guangdong Provincial Tourism Bureau will meet with their Hong Kong counterparts later this week to discuss a raft of measures to reignite interest in Hong Kong as a tourist destination, as the start of the holiday season failed to arrest a slide in the number of tours.
New agreements are expected to be announced before the start of the new year, Tung said.
Xu Xiaolei, spokesman for China Youth Travel Service, said the overall tourism index from the mainland to Hong Kong including both tourist numbers and spending－dropped by 10 percent this year.
"We saw a slight rebound over the Christmas holiday and expect another during the coming New Year and Chinese New Year holidays－about 1 percent and 3 percent," Xu said. "However, the overall situation remains at a standstill."
Hong Kong is no longer among the top 10 tourist destinations for mainland travelers, according to Ctrip public affairs manager Yan Xin.
The most popular destinations outside the mainland for Chinese travelers during the holiday season from Christmas to New Year are Seoul, Bangkok, Taipei, Tokyo, Singapore, Washington DC, Kuala Lumpur, Osaka, Phuket Island and Sydney.
Christmas season tour groups were roughly half the annual average, with as few as 200 tour groups entering Hong Kong daily, according to Tung.
"We've seen very low levels in the past two weeks, and there hasn't been any noticeable up tick due to the festival season," he said.
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