Lantau opportunity cannot be missed

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 May, 2012, 12:00am


In an increasingly competitive world, those who fail to move forwards risk falling behind. As cities in the Pearl River Delta continue to develop rapidly, Hong Kong cannot afford to stand still. The pressure has been renewed now that our neighbouring city is ready to roll out tax and other incentives in an ambitious plan to build a business hub in Qianhai across the border. To avoid lagging behind, a debate on how to make better use of our underdeveloped areas is needed.

Lantau immediately stands out as an option. The island is home to one of the world's busiest airports and first-class tourism and convention facilities such as the Disney theme park and AsiaWorld-Expo. More economic benefits are expected when the bridge spanning the delta is completed - due by 2016. Additionally, consultation on a railway linking the airport with Qianhai is under way. The infrastructure projects have opened the window for more development opportunities.

Instead of treating the Qianhai project as a threat, a better approach is to capture the opportunities that may arise. The developing transport links in the region will bring Lantau and the rest of Hong Kong within an hour's travel of Qianhai. Better co-ordination with our neighbouring cities could be win-win.

Key business players on Lantau also see the potential benefits. They have formed an alliance to push the government for more efforts on this front, including the establishment of an authority to turn Lantau into a new 'metropolis'.

The idea is expected to arouse deep concerns among nature lovers and eco-warriors. The reason Lantau is so appealing is because a large part remains unspoilt. Many find it truly a sanctuary, with pristine beaches and breathtaking mountain scenery. Any further inroads into our cherished backyard should be carefully thought through.

That said, the government should renew its efforts to push for further development of the island while playing close attention to environmental concerns.