Shenzhen closes loophole on mainland visitors to Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 January, 2013, 10:18am

Shenzhen has closed an apparent loophole involving mainland tourists travelling to Hong Kong, by requiring those who are not entitled to the individual visit scheme to be part of tour groups.

The regulation, implemented on Monday by Shenzhen's Culture, Sport and Tourism Bureau, says holidaymakers who do not hold permanent residency in Guangdong, or in 28 other cities that fall under the individual travel scheme, must enter as part of a tour group rather than simply pay 50 yuan (HK$61.50) to obtain a fake group-travel certificate from travel agents at the border.

More than 100 mainland tourists who tried to use fake group-travel certificates were stopped at the border on Tuesday, and 75 others from three groups were delayed because their agents were late in submitting travel information, the Shenzhen-based Daily Sunshine reported.

A Shenzhen tourism official said the crackdown was not linked to rampant smuggling, in which gangs often split goods into small lots that are carried from Hong Kong to the mainland by individuals, to evade taxes.

"Most smugglers travelling between Hong Kong and Shenzhen have multi-entry visas to Hong Kong and aren't required to travel as a group," he said.

"But this doesn't mean that the individual visit scheme will be tightened in the future, as that is regulated by the central government, not Shenzhen."

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said in September that Shenzhen's plan to allow millions of its migrant residents easier access to Hong Kong would be put on hold until Hong Kong had examined its capacity to receive more visitors.