When Hong Kong opened the borders in February, tourists from countries all over the world visited Hong Kong, and the country with the highest number of visitors came from mainland China. According to data collected by the Hong Kong Tourism Board, as of October 2023, a total of 21.3 million tourists from the mainland visited the city this year. And the influx of visitors from the mainland is also evident in the dining scene.
Chef Olivier Elzer of Clarence, points out that “we have observed a significant decrease in our expatriate clientele, many of whom left Hong Kong during the pandemic. In contrast, there has been an increase in the number of Mainland Chinese customers.” He adds, “this change in the demographic makeup of our clientele has prompted us to pay closer attention to their preferences and tailor our offerings accordingly.”
Restaurants have seen an increase in Mainland Chinese and Gen Z diners I Photograph: Courtesy Amber
Echoing this point, Tony Ferreira, head of Culinary Operations at Black Sheep Restaurants (proprietor of Magistracy Dining Room, New Punjab Club, Carbone, and others) mentions that with this new set of customers “our focus has been on building connections and friendships, plus enhancing our offerings, from menus to service to social media, to meet their hospitality needs.”
In addition to mainland Chinese diners, another emerging consumer group consists of younger diners, specifically those belonging to Gen Z. These digital natives are a food-obsessed generation. Now that they're entering the workforce and have some cash to spend, they are devoting a sizable share of their money to food and beverages. “The expectations of a younger clientele are much more experiential,” shares chef Richard Ekkebus, director of Culinary Operations and Food & Beverage at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong. “They do not necessarily want to sit for four hours at a table. So we have to continue creating unique experiences that are appealing and Instagram-worthy,” he adds.