Beijing to see findings from cross-border tourism study
Hong Kong’s concerns about its capacity to handle large numbers of mainland tourists will be passed to Beijing after an assessment of the situation is completed, the commerce secretary said on Monday morning.
Greg So Kam-leung, secretary for commerce and economic development, made the comment as conflict continued to deepen between some local citizens and mainland tourists over the scramble to buy daily necessities like infant milk formula.
“The study is being carried out, and we will reflect the findings to the central government, so [the situation can be handled in a co-ordinated way],” said So, without saying when the study would be finished. He spoke at a meeting of the economic development panel, in which some lawmakers said the growing conflicts worried them.
The study began last year as public concerns grew over the impact of mainland tourists – some engaging in parallel trading – on local retail businesses and the daily lives of Hongkongers. Parallel traders carry goods across the border to profit on their resale by avoiding hefty mainland taxes.
“Just for the purpose of boosting tourist numbers, issues concerning the life and death of the Hong Kong people are being ignored,” said legislator Albert Chan Wai-yip of People’s Power.
Independent lawmaker Paul Tse Wai-chun urged the government to study how to expand Hong Kong’s retail sector to cope with the growing demand from buyers.
Democrat Wu Chi-wai asked if a proposal to set up a dedicated shopping zone near the border might be considered.
But So said the meeting was not the right place to discuss that proposal, because it would involve land-use issues.