More than 200 tents were seen on beaches in Sai Kung in Hong Kong’s New Territories during the Labor Day holidays, and many of the campers were in tour groups from mainland China.
Mainland companies promoted camping activities in Sai Kung on various travel websites that offered camping tours to Sai Wan and Ham Tin Wan beaches at Sai Kung East Country Park for a fee of about HK$400 to HK$600 each (US$50-$76), Oriental Daily reported.
One advertisement said the beaches were the most beautiful in southern China.
The two campsites, for which the suggested number of tent spaces is only 10 to 20 and with limited camping facilities, are considered difficult to access and only suitable for experienced hikers and campers, according to the Agricultural, Fisheries and Conservation Department.
It was understood that the company that ran the ad had offered to transport all the camping gear to the beaches and the participants had hiked to the destinations without hassle.
The flock of the mainland campers on the beaches sparked concern over the impact on the environment.
Some campers were seen cutting trees and setting fires on the beach, catching fish in nearby streams and leaving trash behind, although some travel agencies claimed to have reminded their customers to take their garbage home, news website HK01.com reported.
A cleaning worker said 700 bags of rubbish had been picked up every day, Apple Daily reported, while trash was still seen on the beaches or outside the toilets.
Many netizens slammed the visitors for their selfish behavior and worried that the beautiful scenery would be destroyed if outsiders kept flooding into Hong Kong for camping.
Some suggested limiting the number of tents allowed at campsites and prioritizing bookings by Hong Kong residents to prevent abuse by large-scale commercial camping activities.