• Sun
  • Dec 28, 2014
  • Updated: 9:59pm
CommentInsight & Opinion

Hong Kong should expand facilities to deal with surge in visitor arrivals

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 January, 2014, 4:12am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 January, 2014, 4:16am

People can be excused for doubting that a small city like Hong Kong could play host to 100 million visitors a year. But this is the number that government officials are talking about. According to the official estimates, the number of visitors per year will increase from the 54 million last year to 70 million in 2017. By 2023, the number is expected to hit 100 million. That means an additional 274,000 people will be running around in our city every day, using the public transport network, dining in restaurants or shopping.

For those who find Hong Kong is already overrun by tourists, in particular those from the mainland, they have every right to be concerned. Whether there is still room to take in more visitors is open to debate. A series of reports in this newspaper suggest the city's transport, immigration and shopping facilities are already stretched to the limit.

Admittedly, the economy has benefited since mainlanders have been allowed to travel to the city under the individual visitor scheme that was set up in 2003. From jewellery stores and high-end restaurants to toiletries and infant milk formula, our cash-rich neighbours are now the economic lifeline of our tourism, retail and catering sectors. But they also bring undesirable outcomes. Prices surge as a result. Shopping malls and public transport are swarming with travellers, whose behaviour may upset locals and arouse tension from time to time. If the prevailing situation is any reference, there is reason to believe that a further increase in the number of tourists will bring more problems.

While the influx creates extra burdens, shutting tourists out is not an option. In the increasingly competitive world of tourism, every city wants a bigger share of the market. Official figures put the economic benefits brought by the individual visitor scheme at HK$26 billion in 2012.

Imposing a cap on arrivals is therefore unwise and unnecessary. Nor should the negative impact brought by the tourism boom be blown out of proportion. Hong Kong is not the only place overrun by tourists. As we enjoy the economic benefits, we should be prepared for the undesirable outcomes. The invisible hand of the free market will strike the right balance. Tourists will go elsewhere if we cannot offer what they want. In the meantime, efforts should be made to expand our capacity. Building more tourist facilities and spreading shoppers to less busy districts would be a good start.

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7

This article is now closed to comments

johnyuan
This editorial is deviously written in order to justify that we should take on 100 million tourists yearly. The opening statement already put Hong Kong people as doubters to such idea proposed by a Government administrator. The rest of the editorial is mixing facts with refutations point by point.
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No matter how the editorial distorts facts it can never solve the problem of overcrowding because of land limitation. Its justification without considering land shortage hoists the proposal in expanding facilities caters to tourists – where do you think you can put them? Hong Kong is short of public facilities like public rooms even for the locals.
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Therefore it is a mindless editorial to buttress its siding with that 100 million visitors scheme by forcing Hong Kong to compete for tourist money with the rest of the world. This is greed and not intelligence at work.
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I see this editorial more as a piece written at the request of the tourisim industry. Since the logic used by the editorial is so ill suited as an argument and so downgrading for SCMP’s editorial, SCMP is openly selling out its readers for whatever reason there is which shamefully can’t be revealed.
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This piece reminds of the few in SCMP which were penned by the director Yuen of Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce.
DinGao
" In the meantime, efforts should be made to expand our capacity. Building more tourist facilities and spreading shoppers to less busy districts would be a good start."
Where do you suggest that we start?
Shopping malls in Lamma, South Lantau and Sai Kung?
Hard -working grass roots HK people need to be able to get away from these madding mainland crowds into our "quieter districts" and country parks.
By all means, build a mainland tourist shopping park in the Lok Mau Chau link or some other already devastated container and junk strewn land in NT North West and find a way of ensuring that some of the money they spend goes towards improving the lives of HK people, not making it steadily worse.
mjqhkg
Hong Kong: is getting rich really so glorious? Or so necessary? It's time to look beyond the financial bottom line: 'economic benefits' are not the only measure of success. With the quality of life of so many residents being compromised in this insane dash for mainland cash, it can be argued that this narrow focus on ensuring we expand and expand and expand and let in as many tourists as possible, regardless of the 'negative impacts' is not only unwise, it's incredibly stupid. What do you want, Hong Kong? A big pile of cash now? Or a city where your children can live and breathe? Because that's the choice; and right now everything is pointing to the fact that Hong Kong's powers that be are making the wrong one.
johnyuan
The quality of SCMP editorial over the years has been consistently poor. Few people of those regular write-ins elsewhere in SCMP bother to posting at the editorial. I decried the editorials once that they often comes late on an issue like this tourist piece and yet still mostly poorly thought out even with the benefits from reading the comments from readers. The named editor for editorial had been changed to the present nameless. It is not working well.
Dao-Phooy
'The invisible hand of the free market will strike the right balance'? This is just rubbish - just like the editorial.
yellow_lynx_cat
My response is no, no, no and no. As a resident at Northern District and having have to commute daily on trains, I have to wait for at least one train and board the next to have a seat. Otherwise I will have to stand for a whole 36 minutes. People avoided Mongkok and Causeway Bay because the mainlanders are so annoying - to a point that now I knew some vented out their frustrations by kicking their luggage or pushing them deliberately - to make Mainlanders feel that they are unwelcomed. I am not saying that I agree with those discourtesy but Hong Kongers felt they are forced to kowtow to the uncivilized mainlanders!
dynamco
the contracts for the HK immigration hall at the end of the bridge from nowhere HKZMB is about to be let
It is evidently massive according to engineers who tendered
The Govt presumes the bridge will bring Mainlanders via road over the bridge as tourists
The bridge was actually built to connect HKAA's 55% investment in Zhuhai airport management company as an airfreight conduit from Zhuhai since the airport there has no international destinations
The fact that Foxconn + like manufacturers have moved north + west from the PRD, Shenzhen is building a 3rd runway + courier hub, Guangzhou will have 5 runways + courier hub seems lost on HK Govt + the airfreight at Chep Lap Kok has suffered accordingly

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