Hong Kong economy slows on weak global demand but Chinese tourists remain driving force

HONG KONG – Hong Kong’s economy lost some steam in the third quarter on weak global demand for exports from the trade-reliant Asian financial centre.

The government said Friday an exception to the weakness was the “key driving force” of strong tourist demand.

The former British colony is an increasingly popular destination for mainland Chinese visitors shopping for luxury goods, apartments and baby formula.

Some 30 million free-spending mainlanders visited the semiautonomous Chinese city of 7.1 million in the first nine months of the year. That’s up 19 per cent from last year.

Economic output grew 2.9 per cent in the July-September period, down from 3.2 per cent a year earlier. On a seasonally adjusted basis, it grew 0.5 per cent from the previous quarter.

Full year growth is forecast at 3 per cent.