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  • Dec 26, 2014
  • Updated: 10:03am
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'Tough task' to set limit on tourists to Hong Kong

Chief executive faces a daunting challenge in drawing up a tourism policy, experts warn

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 October, 2012, 2:19pm

Tourism veterans say it will be extremely difficult for the government to determine the maximum number of tourists Hong Kong can accommodate, as officials try to calm public anger at the influx of mainland visitors.

Last month authorities on both sides of the border reached a consensus on a plan allowing 4.1 million non-permanent residents of Shenzhen easier access to Hong Kong through multiple-entry visas.

The Hong Kong government said it would set up a mechanism to assess the city's potential to receive more travellers, while Shenzhen agreed not to change its permit rules until the assessment was finished.

While Chief Executive Leung Chung-ying has yet to reveal how the assessment will be done, two veterans who took part in the latest South China Morning Post debate warned it would be extremely difficult.

"How can the government draw a line and come up with so-called 'capacity'?" asked Michael Wu Siu-ieng, chairman of the Travel Industry Council.

Using the availability of hardware to determine a maximum capacity could flop as these numbers could be increased, he said.

"If there aren't enough [immigration] officers stationed at the border, the government can hire more. If there are certain times when the border is too busy, there can be co-ordination among travel agencies" to avoid long queues, he explained.

Tony Tse, an assistant professor at Polytechnic University's School of Hotel and Tourism Management, said the high proportion of same-day visitors made assessments difficult. From January to July, one out of two visitors was a same-day traveller who did not stay in any form of accommodation.

Multiple entries by one person also complicates the calculation of visitor arrivals, he said.

"A visitor arrives in Hong Kong, passes through the immigration, leaves Hong Kong to go to, say, Macau, or mainland China, returns to Hong Kong and passes through immigration again. This same visitor would be accounted for as two arrivals," Tse said.

Caroline Mak Sui-king, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Retail Management Association, said that the price inflation linked to the rise in visitor numbers reflected an acute shortage of retail space and lack of tourism planning.

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keresearch
its a tough task when you are just building railway infrastructure that is intended to bring another 116,000 tourists from China everyday and when with cross border road usage is stuck at 43,000 trips a day when you have built capacity for 120,000.
Dan G
The problem runs so much deeper than tourism, yet the government chooses to ignore it as usual. Not only is this unworkable, but it is also deliberately avoiding the cause.
Some interesting discussion on this here: ****alleyeseast.wordpress.com/2012/10/11/too-many-shoppers/
yeemayee
An example of how short sighted people are. Do not worry the problem will go away as Hong Kong becomes less attractive to visit and the mainland travelers are going to other places. Also the economy in Mainland is slowing so that will have impact and before long we are hoping that we have more visitors. Why don't we focus on building up infrastructure to handle more visitors which by the way also create jobs and opportunities. This is not a "world city" but a city that is trying to hold back the inevitable integration to China and not looking at solutions.
comuller
I went to Macau for two days last week. Since all ferries from Shenzhen to Macau and back were fully booked, we went through Zhuhai. Two hours line up when entering and leaving Macau was required, and there were more than 20 immigration counters on either side. (For comparison, going from Shenzhen to Hong Kong through Lok Ma Chau two days earlier was done in 10 minutes). The gamblers in the casinos were mainly Cantonese speakers, difficulty to say how many originated from Hong Kong, but the ferries seemed to be full when leaving and arriving. Parallel trading obviously is going on as well, as can be easily observed when leaving Macau back to Zhuhai.
If Hong Kong has logistic problems to accomodate tourists from the mainland, then Macau should have them as well, even more so when considering the specific situation of the place. Yet, I didn't hear or read a single complaint so far from Macau's side about similar issues raised in Hong Kong.
What makes Macau different?
donniemcm
Oh forgot to mention that an uncountable numbers of flats are empty.
So please don't ask why Macau is different.
donniemcm
Just quick and dirty statistics :
- 40% child birth in Hong Kong are from Mainland people
- 30% (maybe 40%) of property sales agreement are from Mainland people
- HK iphone 5 stocks are trusted by Mainland people (Well not so sad about it but still good to notice)
likingming
more dirty statistics :
- Macau is one-fifth the area of Hong Kong
- Its population is one-tenth that of HK
How could such a small Macau accomodate the large influx of mainlanders while HK could not ?
lamlm38
in other words come on in we need ur money (SARS period) go **** urself when we dont need u (the mainlanders) come on guys.. have a heart!!!
Of course a democratic gov always chooses short solution.. they need the votes and confidence in something like 2 weeks or months :) cant wait too long u c!!!
lucifer
No No No…you pretty much got it right in the first sentence. You need to elaborate more on that point.
mrgoodkat
There is an even easier solution: open less lanes at the border crossings. Let's see how many people from the mainland still want to come if they'd have to queue up 3 or 4 hours every time they enter. This would also get rid of the parallel traders. And since there are different lanes for different nationalities, the government could precisely target the tourists from the mainland, while everybody else won't be affected.

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