The Central–Mid-Levels escalator is seeing Japanese and ASEAN tourists crowding around the engineering marvel, Australian and American tourists are flocking to the open-air tourist buses tracking the city streets, and mainland Chinese tourists are digging deep on social media to uncover Hong Kong’s next dining hotspot.

The Hong Kong Government, restaurant groups, and travel companies are combining efforts to launch strategic campaigns to promote local tourism and culture in a bid to return to its strengths pre-2019, when the city existed as a strong destination for short- and long-haul travellers to dine, discover, and conduct business.

With the figure of 55.91 million in its sights – the total number of tourists visiting the city in 2019 – Hong Kong is reacting to new customer behaviours, bucking trends, and compelling businesses to adapt suitably to understand what tourists are seeking in their Hong Kong experiences.

InvestHK

As evinced in previous years, Hong Kong has seen a strong pull from mainland China, with tourists returning steadily. In Q1 2024, 11.2 million tourists visited Hong Kong, of which 8.6 million, or 76.8%, were from mainland China. The monolithic mainland audience to Hong Kong has seen to be great decision-makers in how Hong Kong prepares for new tastes and F&B offerings.

The advent of Xiaohongshu’s meteoric rise in mainland China, Hong Kong, and overseas Chinese communities has had a great influence on how younger Chinese tourists are consuming in Hong Kong.

A wealth of mainland Chinese tourists are following trends via Xiaohongshu and tracking itineraries that feature the best bars and cheap eats in the city. Whilst their purchasing power may sway a majority of diners away from fine-dining restaurants, they still seek experiential dining experiences.

InvestHK

% Arabica, Bakehouse, COA, FINEPRINT, and stylish venues alike with affordable dining options have become destinations preferred by Chinese tourists. 

The Hong Kong Tourism Board teamed up with Xiaohongshu in April 2024 to sign a strategic partnership with the app to generate a promotion of cultural tourism in Hong Kong. The city is rated the top outbound destination for mainland Chinese tourists.

A campaign in October and November 2023 revealed that the Hong Kong Tourism Board generated more than 200 million engagements to promote local history, culture, and art. Hong Kong’s F&B and tourism industry is, in part, now dictated by the 200 million active users on Xiaohongshu, of which more than 70% are millennials or Gen Z. 

InvestHK
Photo credit: website/InvestHK

With an appetite for strong flavours, spicy plates, and home-grown brands, several mainland Chinese restaurant brands and groups have penetrated the local market to satisfy Hong Kong diners and visiting Chinese tourists. With assistance from InvestHK, Hong Kong’s governmental department responsible for attracting foreign direct investment into the city and offering free advice and services to set up and expand here, brands have flourished.

Confidence in the market and new customer behaviours is so high that Chinese restaurant chain Tai Er worked with InvestHK in December 2023 to open four locations over two months in strategic tourist and local dining hotspots – Tsim Sha Tsui, Sha Tin, Kowloon Tong, and Kai Tak – to promote the great flavours of suan cai (pickled cabbage) fish.

Shenzhen-founded barbecue chain Muwu BBQ expanded to Mong Kok in April 2024 and Shek Tong Tsui in May to open up the group’s first Hong Kong restaurants, serving fiery and spicy northern Chinese-style meaty skewers to locals and tourists.

InvestHK
Photo credit: website/Muwu BBQ

Boasting more than 400 branches across 60 cities in the mainland, Hefu Noodles recently opened their first store in Causeway Bay. The Jiangsu-style noodle chain is planning to raise between HKD800 million and HKD1.56 billion in funding, presenting confidence in the city’s F&B industry towards mainland Chinese and Asian brands seeking to open in Hong Kong.

Beyond the mass return of mainland Chinese tourists, Hong Kong has seen increases in tourists from Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and the USA, each affecting tastes and consumption of different cuisines and restaurant brands.

With Hong Kong’s powerful East-meets-West identity, Western dining remains strong in Hong Kong, even though the popularity of finedining is diminishing. New tourists to Hong Kong are seeking more value for money and experiences related to new cuisines in the city.

InvestHK
Photo credit: website/Bengal Brothers

Nocino, a Swiss-Italian restaurant opened in December 2023, has become a must-book eatery manned by chef Matthew Ziemski. The British chef, formerly working at Woolly Pig HK and Kinship, was supported by InvestHK in launching his first independent restaurant in Hong Kong.

Wan Chai’s casual restaurants Chullschick, a Peruvian eatery in Starstreet Precinct, and Indian street-food specialist Bengal Brothers are two restaurants that have impressed local diners and attracted South American and Indian visitors with their authentic menus. As well as receiving support from InvestHK, the venues have in turn aided the growth of Wan Chai’s dining scene with new and exciting F&B offerings.

With a vision to strengthen Hong Kong’s status as a leading location for international business in Asia, InvestHK is steadfast in priming the market to attract new regional and global companies to the F&B industry.

InvestHK
Photo credit: website/InvestHK

Hong Kong is seeing a tourism revival with new behaviours from Hong Kong’s international consumers, with both Asian and Western restaurants receiving new guests from growing regional markets and continued support from mainland Chinese tourists.

InvestHK helps to facilitate investment in Hong Kong’s dining scene and local and international F&B enterprises to launch in the city. With no sales and capital gains tax, a strong import market, a multilingual and multicultural demographic, and free movement of capital, talent, goods, and information, Hong Kong is primed as a leading destination for international business, especially in key tourism areas such as F&B and hospitality. 

InvestHK has made setting up a business in Hong Kong smoother. It offers free advice and services to support companies from the planning stage right through to the launch and expansion of their business.

Hong Kong is the best place for local and international companies to reach their full potential.

InvestHK
Photo credit: website/InvestHK

To explore more about how InvestHK can help you to uncover your potential in Hong Kong, head to their website here for more information.

This feature is brought to Foodie in partnership with InvestHK.

Foodie is here for all Hong Kong food related news and events.

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