Hong Kong needs leadership to help its people cope with rising tourism

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 February, 2014, 4:20am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 February, 2014, 4:25am

It is obvious to everyone that, indeed, there are far too many visitors coming to Hong Kong from the mainland.

Our once well-ordered and clean city is showing enormous signs of wear and tear. The government does not seem to have provided more cleaners to cope with the problems caused by the extra numbers. The walkways and streets are now in a very bad state. Spitting is also on the rise.

It is understandable that many Hong Kong people are frustrated. We have to go about our daily lives as normal, but are faced with crowded public transport and streets.

Each visitor seems to push about a large suitcase, which also takes up lots of space on pavements, escalators and buses, and in shopping malls and the MTR. This can be a very dangerous thing to do: I once witnessed an extremely large and heavy suitcase crashing down an escalator inside the IFC.

Originally a large proportion of Hong Kong's population was made up of refugees from the mainland. They came and worked all hours of the day, six or seven days a week; they educated their children and made good lives for themselves and, in the process, played a huge part in making Hong Kong the success that it was.

Now these same people are being made to feel like second-class citizens here. Everything is being done for the benefit of tourists.

Disney wants another loan so it can build a new hotel for the tourists. Those of us living in the city have stopped trying to go to Disneyland and Ocean Park and many other local attractions because of the enormous crowds: just try getting on the Peak Tram at any time during the day or evening.

Large parts of the territory have been spoilt in the race to offer more attractions for tourists. The area around the Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery, on Lantau Island, is only one such example.

I do not condone the behaviour of the people who held a protest march against mainland visitors, in Canton Road on Sunday, February 16, but I do understand it. I wonder every day - when faced with yet another group of people all trundling along with their large suitcases - where it will all end.

Action is needed to solve the problem. I think the first step is for the government - which seems to be the least concerned - to at least acknowledge that the city is saturated with visitors.

So much could be done to make it all so much better, but it needs leadership to achieve this - and we have none.

Judith Ritchie, Lantau