Hong Kong's No 2 official came bearing good news on Christmas Eve regarding tourist numbers and pledged the government would continue piling resources into developing the sector. Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said in a blog post on Sunday that the number of visits made to Hong Kong had reached 53 million for the year as of November - an increase of 3 per cent on the number seen in the first 11 months of last year. "The number has grown for both mainland Chinese and non-mainland tourists," Cheung said. "There was also very sizeable growth in the number of visits from the north Asian market, including Japan and South Korea." Cheung said the strong numbers had a positive impact on hotels and retailers in the city. The average occupancy rate at Hong Kong hotels increased from 86 per cent to 89 per cent in the first 10 months of the year, he said, while the number of overnight visits grew by 5 per cent. In the same period retail sales saw a 1.2 per cent increase compared to the same stretch of 2016. Cheung said the government aimed to develop the city into a "world-class and first-choice tourism destination" through four development strategies. These were attracting tourists from a diverse range of markets, developing products and projects for the sector with both local and international characteristics, promoting "smart travelling", and enhancing the quality of tourism services.