Six may throw hats in the ring for Legco tourism seat
At least six people are contemplating running for the tourism functional constituency in September's Legislative Council election to replace Paul Tse Wai-chun, who is expected to opt for direct election to Legco.
Most of the potential candidates are from travel agencies, which are facing staggering rental costs, a labour shortage and proposed legislation on working hours.
They are also bracing for tougher regulation by a new third-party watchdog, which will take over the regulatory role of the Travel Industry Council (TIC), a trade body.
Ronnie Ho Pak-ting, chairman of Jetour Holiday, said he was considering running to safeguard the industry's interests. 'If maximum working hours are written into law, it will have a devastating impact on our industry,' he said. 'It would be impossible for tour guides to comply with the working hour requirements owing to the nature of their job.'
Freddy Yip Hing-ning, managing director of Goldjoy Travel, is understood to be running for a third time and has sent 'sales letters' to voters.
Michael Wu, chairman of the TIC until December, said he was thinking about joining the fray. And China Travel deputy general manager Yiu Si-wing and Swire Travel managing director Andrew Leung are also said to be considering a run. Yiu could not be reached for comment. Leung said he was not ready to talk about it.
'We would like to have someone who is truly upholding our interests in Legco,' said Joseph Tung Yao-chung, executive director of the TIC. Tung, who was defeated by Tse in the 2008 poll, said he wouldn't run.
William Chan Kit, general manager of distribution and planning at Hong Kong Express Airways, is the only potential hopeful from the airline industry. He is a member of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong.
'To make the industry more sustainable, we should diversify the tourist base in Hong Kong,' he said.
The tourism functional constituency comprises the airline, travel agency and hotel sectors. There are more than 1,100 registered voters in travel agencies, hugely outnumbering the other two sectors, which have about 200 votes between them.
'It's so hard to elect a person who can represent the interests of all parties,' said Federation of Hong Kong Hotel Owners' Michael Li Hon-sing.
The number of seats that will be up for grabs in the Legislative Council in September