Goodwill ambassador can offer etiquette advice to mainlanders

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 March, 2014, 4:31am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 March, 2014, 4:31am

A recent poll by mainland newspaper Global Times showed that a majority of Hong Kong people opposed the inane protests against mainland tourists.

Hong Kong has a history of anti-discrimination ethics fostered by the Equal Opportunities Commission set up in 1996. Its chairman Dr York Chow Yat-ngok has pointed out that mainland visitors can be influenced by Hong Kong society ("Most people both sides of the border oppose anti-mainlander protests, finds survey", February, 25).

The Hong Kong Civic Association's working committee on tourism echoes that view. Most people in Hong Kong can understand the behaviour of some mainland visitors because of the socio-economic circumstances.

At the same time, we sympathise with those in the survey who may be rightfully distressed by impertinent visitors from across the border. Hong Kong needs to find a solution to ease the cultural tension that is causing undue frictions amongst us, and with the mainland.

The Hong Kong government should consider initiating a concierge programme for tourism operated with "goodwill ambassadors".

The first engagement should be at all customs officer counters where leaflets pertaining to Hong Kong's cultural expectations from visitors are handed out, and goodwill ambassadors are available to offer assistance.

These leaflets could be printed with lucky draws and valuable discounts, sponsored by the Hong Kong Tourism Board, motivating visitors to bear in mind those guidelines.

The goodwill ambassadors would be present at tourist hotspots advising on the whereabouts of nearby attractions or public facilities.

When required, they would firmly remind visitors of local laws pertaining to littering or other antisocial acts that might lead to them no longer being welcome in Hong Kong. The ambassadors should also report to the proper authorities if violations persist.

Lastly, they could serve as a real-time surveillance network, reporting possible overflows and alerting incoming tour groups to reschedule sightseeing programmes at those locations to avoid further build-up.

Hong Kong's effort could change feelings on both sides of the border provoked by the fatuous demonstrations.

It would help to preserve the image and hospitality with other countries for all ethnic Chinese, if our mainland friends are taught proper etiquette when they visit these destinations.

Les Gee, convener, working committee on tourism, Hong Kong Civic Association