A University of Hong Kong economist says tourists using the massive new bridge from Macau and Zhuhai are not doing much for Hong Kong's economy – because they spend very little money here.
Vera Yuen, an assistant lecturer in HKU's faculty of economics, says non-tourist traffic on the bridge has fallen well short of projections, with the logistics sector making little use of it.
Speaking after attending RTHK's City Forum, Miss Yuen said thousands of tourists crossing the bridge from Zhuhai were disturbing residents in Tung Chung while failing to make a positive impact on the local economy.
"Those tourists come here as a day trip. They don't stay overnight," she said. "Each tourist pays only HK$200 to a few hundred dollars for their trip and it's only for the bridge fee and the transportation fee.
"This kind of tourist doesn't spend a lot of money, they are low-end tourists. They don't benefit Hong Kong's GDP a lot but at the same time they cause social externalities; that is, they create social costs that make the neighbourhood more crowded."
In recent weeks, large crowds of mainland tourists have been spotted in Tung Chung, especially on weekends. The Hong Kong government has pledged to mitigate the problems and work with Guangdong authorities on solutions for the overcrowding.