• Fri
  • Dec 19, 2014
  • Updated: 8:21pm
CommentLetters

Hongkongers see few benefits from influx of mainland tourists

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 August, 2014, 4:50am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 August, 2014, 4:50am

I refer to the article by Shirley Yuen, CEO of the General Chamber of Commerce ("Limiting mainland visitors counters Hong Kong's open doors policy", July 29).

No country the size of Hong Kong, with a population of seven million, handles 54 million tourists a year. About 75 per cent of these visitors are mainlanders, and it is this geographical proximity and small physical size that should prompt the SAR government to limit tourist numbers.

Hongkongers do not discriminate against mainland tourists because they are from north of the border, but they do feel the adverse effects of 40 million mainlanders entering the city each year.

Yuen says Hong Kong is in danger of losing tourists to the likes of South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore. South Korea - about 90 times larger than Hong Kong - handles 11 million tourists a year, three million of whom are mainland Chinese. Malaysia is 300 times larger, with about 25 million tourists, two million of them mainlanders. Singapore had 15 million tourists in 2013, of whom 2.3 million were mainlanders.

These countries are a few flying hours from China and have generally higher taxes than Hong Kong; with taxation, tourism revenue benefits a wider spectrum of people there.

In low-tax Hong Kong, regardless of the high cost to society from inflation and overcrowding, retail tourism benefits mainly landlords, property developers and jewellery shops. Local neighbourhood shops and restaurants frequented by Hong Kong's grass roots are forced out by high rents.

Escalating prices makes it expensive for the grass roots to dine at their favourite cha chaan teng, as our economy is now geared towards a price and economy for tourists, not locals.

The currency peg that benefits certain industries, such as tourism, results in wage earners' productivity gains not being reflected in real pay increases due to inflation.

Our artificially weak currency and low tax environment shouldn't be mistaken for high productivity. Britain and Switzerland have strong currencies but are doing better compared to the euro zone.

Many Hongkongers lately have had ill feelings towards business, and the Chamber of Commerce should constructively address this instead of, for example, blaming high labour costs due to the minimum wage.

Although tourism accounts for 5 per cent of our economy, it adversely effects most of the population. It is right that the government should consider limiting tourist numbers to continue making Hong Kong habitable for its people.

Bernard E. S. Lee, Tsuen Wan

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virokick
Mainland tourist down= luxury retail shops down
Luxury retail shops down= property rental down
Property rental down= HK price level down
Price level down = HK people happy
HK people happy = HK Chamber Of Commerce unhappy
Diversify our economy= tourism down
Rental down = other local business up
Local business up= HK happy
markranson
Superb letter. I hope the buffoons in government read it.
strangefellow
Excellent letter. Thank you for speaking up.
virokick
Australia is like 1000 times the size of HK.
Do you think Australians love Asian tourist or immigrants - grow up!
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mercedes2233
It saved HK from the global financial crisis. Australia, for example, is trying to improve on tourist numbers, and would love to have our problem of spending tourists.
kongshan2047
Are you aware of any free and open economy that actually has a quota on the number of tourists? Secondly, how do you distinguish between tourists and those who come to for other purposes such as business? Supposing a mainland Chinese man comes to HK with his family for contract negotiation with another HK or foreign businessman, while he engages in business negotiation, his wife and children go visit the ocean park or disneyland. What is the purpose of their visit? Business or leisure? Or lets suppose after finishing his business early, he and his family then decide to spend their remaining times shopping at TST or Causeway Bay. Now what would you say is their main purpose of visit?

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