• Sun
  • Sep 21, 2014
  • Updated: 7:08am
CommentInsight & Opinion

Mainland China and Hong Kong must work together to deal with crush of visitors

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 March, 2014, 4:26am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 March, 2014, 6:32am

Tourism is of crucial importance to Hong Kong's economy, yet the growing love-hate relationship with visitors from the mainland would seem to indicate otherwise. The pressures on transport, shopping districts and everyday necessities is such that tolerance is slowly giving way to protest. Government projections that the number of visitors will rise from 54 million last year to 100 million in 2023 have been met with alarm. It is therefore good that National People's Congress Standing Committee chairman Zhang Dejiang has raised the issue.

In the latest protest last weekend, dozens of people marched in Mong Kok telling Putonghua-speaking shoppers to stay at home. There was open hostility, but not the violence of a small demonstration last month in Tsim Sha Tsui that caught Beijing's attention. The concern raised by officials was understandable; hate speech and provocative actions are at no time acceptable. Condemning unruly behaviour does nothing to allay the concerns of residents, though.

Zhang told local delegates to the annual session of the NPC that mainland and Hong Kong officials should jointly look into the issue of tourism. This would be a wise move; while tourism is a matter for Hong Kong, it is mainland rules that determine who can visit our city and how often. Close cross-border co-operation is a necessary aspect of ensuring the flow of visitors from our most important market is smooth and manageable. There would be less chance of being caught off guard by shifts in policy, and immigration authorities, product suppliers and transport companies would be better prepared.

Suggestions that our city can cope with the rising tide of tourists sparked the protests. With rail services on many routes near capacity, shopping areas packed at peak times and locals scrambling with visitors for popular products, tolerance is already wearing thin. The idea that numbers could double is unacceptable to some residents. But as small as our city may be, estimating arrival figures is tricky, even futile; there are unpredictable factors when it comes to the leisure, recreation and shopping habits of a particular demographic.

Authorities should co-ordinate and if needed, fine-tune tourism policies. Hong Kong has benefitted enormously from mainland tourism, the individual visitor scheme alone bringing in HK$26 billion in 2012. Given the benefits, we should be patient and tolerant. We should have faith in the free market.

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likingming
No of tourist : 54 millions in 345 days
Duration of stay : 2.5 days
Average Daily No of tourists : (54,000,000/365)x2.5=370,000
That means there are around 370,000 tourists (and I don't minus the no of HKers going back to China eveyday) on every single day in HK and that is around 4.9% of the HK population. So among us, we have 1 tourist for every 21 HKers.
In conclusion, I don't think we would be less over-crowding even if zero no of mainlanders come to HK. Be it 20 people or 21 people.
johnyuan
The economic benefits to Hong Kong has been shallowly understood and overly exaggerated by the editorial despite what its own business column’s analysis. According to Jake Van Der Kamp, most of the benefits go to a very few who own the franchise of the foreign mercantile that the mainland tourists are buying. Nowadays landlords of the shops are laughing all the way to the banks with their incessant raise of rents. MTRC is doing well too by packing passengers to the max.
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The rest of the society while paying extra along in a transformed extra crowding environment. Land and housing shortage for importing more shopkeepers to boost tourism will only make sense by understanding collusion between government and the business is difficult to resist. But I doubt the leader in Central Government is endorsing the idea to expand travelling to Hong Kong by mainlanders.
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This editorial is weak in its editorial voice to serve the society as a whole and comes to notice of a news seems late for penning the editorial. Who is pushing you?
whoaman
I agree! As a normal HK resident, I'm definitely not benefiting from all the visitors - prices keep going up (more demand, more greed - a proven fact of human nature), rents keep going up, everywhere is crowded, but of course the ones 'benefiting' from all the visitors never have to rub shoulders with them. The worst aspect is the 'quality' of the visitors - mainland chinese generally speaking have a lack of respect for others, which translates to a very self centred attitude - I'm not overly biased, I'm just around these people a lot where I live, and unfortunately almost all of the one I've encountered are like this - no respect and selfish.
johnyuan
My posting 8 days earlier:
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The national official raised in the meeting if Hong Kong is up to measure to treat mainland tourists so that they would have a pleasant visit in Hong Kong. If the official looks beyond the local protests against those visitors, the simple answer is that Hong Kong will never be able to guarantee the official that mainland visitors wouldn’t be received without protests from locals. The simple logic is that a finite Hong Kong environment with 7 million inhabitants living and working can’t be that easy to take on an infinite number out of 1.3 billions of mainlanders.
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If the official takes notice of the uncivil situation, it is time to ration the supply of tourists to match what Hong Kong can do to play more a civilized host. There are greedy people on both side of the border officials and tourist sector respectively who are egging on oversupplying of visitors to swarm the city of Hong Kong which is fighting for space even without any visitors visiting.
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The visiting rule must be reviewed to put a daily quota in place if happiness for visitors and locals can be had. It is all common sense and should not be a power play between David and Goliath. Here, the Goliath would never be slaughtered but David actually would be literally crushed.
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