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  • Jul 23, 2014
  • Updated: 11:10pm
CommentInsight & Opinion

Hong Kong should welcome mainland Chinese tourists

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 July, 2013, 1:33am

The unveiling of travel industry reforms, including an independent watchdog, to be tabled before a Legislative Council panel today followed a prediction that the number of visitors to the city could more than double to 100 million a year in the next decade. The two events are unrelated, yet complementary. The government has proposed a new travel industry authority to take over from a self-regulatory body of industry insiders who failed to put their house in order. This follows a series of scandals involving the treatment of mainland tour groups, including forced shopping, rip-offs and abuse by guides who rely on commissions.

Mainlanders already account for about 70 per cent of visitors, and it is they who are expected to drive the doubling of tourist numbers predicted by Jack So Chak-kwong, convener of the working group on tourism under the Economic Development Commission. So also called for a doubling of the number of hotel rooms as tourist numbers soared, especially after the opening of the Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai bridge and the high-speed cross-border railway.

This has revived calls for limits to be placed on the growth of tourism after a peak-season influx earlier this year taxed hotel and other tourist facilities, and caused resentment among locals over shopping and overcrowding. Given the dominance of compatriots in the growth, the debate is not so much a question of whether there are too many tourists, but whether there are too many mainland tourists.

Hong Kong is one of the few places where there is talk of too many tourists. This does raise the question of why complaints about tourists overwhelmingly target mainlanders when there are few about major campaigns to grow tourism from the West. To be sure, tourist officials want to promote Hong Kong as Asia's world city. But the contrast smacks of discrimination.

Former Hong Kong Tourism Board chairman James Tien Pei-chun has rightly pointed out that tourism is the city's only pillar industry with sustained growth. It is being driven by mainlanders, now ranked as the world's biggest spenders on overseas travel ahead of Germans and Americans. Hong Kong prides itself as an open city in which free trade is a core value. The flow of mainland tourism, and our appetite for it, will find their own levels through market forces. In the meantime, can we really afford to drive them into the arms of London, New York or Paris instead?


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This article is now closed to comments

I don't have a problem with mainland tourists and if they didn't feel welcome they wouldn't come. The whole issue is totally contrived to play on the insecurities of HK chinese who always feel put upon by expats or mainland chinese. Reality is that this is just a distraction; while locals worry about tourists, milk powder and crowded trains, the property tycoons, their friends, and useless government steal HK from the people. Manipulation of property prices is at the root of most of HK's runaway cost of living, and property tycoons and feckless gov are to blame -- not mainland tourists or expats.
@baishui - is the sky gonna fall if we have a few less tourists in hk? whats going to happen? rents are going to come down? local businesses will have more affordable rents? there will be a few less tourists buy milk powder at my local watson's? and there will be a few less property agent shops on my street? some landlords will make a little less in rent? what else? oh some watch stores might suffer a bit? please tell me what will happen that will be so undesirable.
This editorial lacks any substance and insights. The question of whether or not mainland tourists should be welcomed in Hong Kong is not even a logically valid one. As a self-proclaimed 'World City', why should Hong Kong discriminate against any group of tourists? For those pitiful Hongkongers who despise mainland tourists or mainlanders in general, let's see what will happen if you manage to let your legislators pass a law that bans mainlanders from entering Hong Kong as so many of you apparently wish for. A 'World City'? HK citizens have a petty mindset of villagers.
Too many Mainland tourists causes HK many troubles. Though there are claims that Mainland tourists benefits HK a lot, the side effect can be disastrous if the situation goes unchecked. The side effect includes the increasing disharmony between locals and tourists, the sky-rocketing properties price, the up-going daily necessities, to name a few. Before the controversial issues are to be dealt, more Mainland tourists will do harm than good to us!
Merely from the perspective of economic advantages bought about by the Mainland tourists is nothing but a self-fish saying. What is so called "wont change for 50 years" is simply a lie! See what HK's today looks like!
If we want to welcome mainland tourists, why don't we try to make our community more attractive to them by cleaning it up. Hoards of tourists come to places like Lamma Island. The ocean sides (except for the one official public beach) are disgusting. It would not take a huge effort on the part of our rich government to clean up these areas. And it would provide employment for many out-of-work folks. (There have been citizen efforts to do this, but this really needs government action.)
Let me get this straight. The author claims that it is discrimination to complain about mainland tourists, who are coming to HK in such numbers to wreck the city for its residents, rather than complaining about other tourists, who are not?
@ "can we really afford to drive them into the arms of London, New York or Paris instead?"
Yes, we can afford to drive parasitic industries out of Hong Kong. The question is whether we can afford not to.
The independent watchdog and the anticipated exponential growth of tourists are directly related no less than the setting up of ICAC after the uncontrollable corruption cases infested in Hong Kong. Mind bogging why they aren’t. The editorial is misleading and misinforming its readers.
We are seeing the city is maturing towards rule of law – more rule and more law. Hopefully
The laws are based on a common value for all. The many self-regulatory bodies in Hong Kong proven to be mostly self-serving and should be replaced by government’s regulatory bodies.
CY Leung should be congratulated for the courage to go above the Tourism Board to set up the new travel industry authority overseeing the industry and the well-being of the tourists and public. Let us see good value for all.
who writes this junk? scmp is owned by robert kuok. they own the kerry group, which owns retail and commercial properties in hong kong. i assume with the pending slowdown in the property bubble, we now need more tourists to prop up rents? i went for a walk in causeway bay last night, its a warzone. we don't need more tourists. we need rents which are viable for local businesses, and local businesses which service locals, who are more than happy to spend on reasonably priced products and services. please, no more hermes, no more lv, we don't want this shite.


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