Hong Kong Country Park where a lot of rubbish was found after the holiday. Photo: AFCD's website

The thousands of mainland Chinese visitors who chose to spend their week-long Labor Day holidays in Hong Kong going hiking and on nature tours left behind piles of rubbish and trash, angering local groups.

A green group urged the government to better promote the “take your litter home” message to mainland visitors as it forecast more mainlanders will be coming to Hong Kong for nature tours, thanks to the opening of high-speed trains and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, the Apple Daily reported.

Almost one million mainlanders visited Hong Kong from May 1 to 4 this year. Mainland companies have arranged tour groups to Hong Kong’s beaches and suburbs in recent years, bringing an influx of hikers and campers to the beaches and campsites.

Hahn Chu, the director of the environmental group The Green Earth, said their volunteers had analysed the rubbish collected from the suburbs, half of it collected on Sai Wan Shan along MacLehose Trail Section 2 in Sai Kung, and found packages printed with simplified Chinese characters, including water bottles, uncooked food and canned food.

In one case, volunteers found packages of hotpot soup base printed with simplified Chinese characters on the famous trail the Dragon’s Back on Hong Kong, suggesting that people had set up tents or cooked in the area, which is not a designated camping site.

Meanwhile, a cleaner at the Wan Chai South Campsite in Sai Kung said she picked up about 100 bags of trash between May 1 and May 3, compared to 10 bags of rubbish she collected on a usual public holiday, news website HK01.com reported.

A reporter also found about 20 tents were left behind on the lawn on Tap Mun, or the Grass Island, another popular destination in Sai Kung.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said they only received three complaints during National Day holidays last year and Labor Day holidays this year over campsite issues. They had issued 14 penalty tickets to offenders who threw rubbish in country park areas.

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department said they collected eight metric tons of rubbish at the Pui O campsite on Lantau Island from May 1 to 4, but did not provide last year’s figure, or the amount they collected from other campsites.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board said they had been promoting the “take your litter home” messages on their website and at tourist centers.

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