Mainland Chinese tourist behaviour highlights lack of public amenities

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 October, 2013, 12:16am


The report ("Ban on forced shopping hits takings in HK stores", October 2) was accompanied by a picture of "weary mainland tourists" sitting on the street steps at Golden Bauhinia Square.

In a related report ("New rules promise politer visitors", October 2), you said some mainland visitors were setting their own standards of behaviour despite the new rulebook urging mainland tourists to behave in a civilised way. You commented on a mother who could be seen helping her son urinate in a plastic bag.

Designing Hong Kong's research shows that there are very few seats in public areas and along our streets, and that public toilets are far and few and difficult to find.

Bauhinia Square, a top tourist draw on Hong Kong Island, has no seats and no alfresco dining. Tourists are taken around a barren concrete slab. They can purchase a drink from an itinerant vendor at a convenience store in the convention centre. Welcome to Hong Kong where elderly have to put their own chairs down outside housing estates and New Territories residents must create their own seating with benches and chairs at bus stops to ease their wait.

Locals know where the "loos" are that we can access; we have our favourite stops - mine in Central is in an upmarket hotel, at the back of the bar. The absence of public loos at MTR stations is a sad state of affairs and one that will become more obvious to locals as well as visitors as the population ages. Visitors with little kids have very little time when they get the "dancing legs" signal. Mother nature has to be responded to quickly and efficiently. If there is no public loo nearby, or it is hard to find, then the use of a plastic bag is swift and tidy, and should be congratulated.

Tour group tourism is unwelcome for many reasons. The ban on forced shopping is a good change. Let's stop Ocean Park giving discounts and commissions to tour groups so we can start enjoying the park again. Let's find every possible way of getting these coaches off the road so that our roads clear up. Let's promote individual visitors to use our regular public transport to enjoy the town. At the same time, let's fix our public spaces and streets. Let's make our city a welcome place for locals and visitors to wander, rest, relax, snack (and pee).

Paul Zimmerman, CEO, Designing Hong Kong