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  • Dec 29, 2014
  • Updated: 3:38am
Public Eye
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 February, 2013, 5:06am

Tick tock! Mainland tourist time bomb is set to blast


Michael Chugani is a Hong Kong-born American citizen who has worked for many years as a journalist in Hong Kong, the USA and London. Aside from being a South China Morning Post columnist he also hosts ATV’s Newsline show, a radio show and writes for two Chinese-language publications. He has published a number of books on politics which contain English and Chinese versions.

Public Eye is not gloating … but we told you so. We warned the glut of mainland tourists to our tiny city was a ticking time bomb. But policymakers turned a deaf ear, until the Lunar New Year, when shameful images of mainlanders being forced by crooked travel agencies to sleep in seedy guesthouses, and even in a tourist bus, drew global attention. Now th ey are all scrambling to admit things have got out of hand. It's time to admit the disadvantages now outweigh the advantages of giving easy entry to millions of mainlanders. The tensions we saw when half a million mainlanders flooded the city during the Lunar New Year was just a warning of a coming explosion. We can expect mainland visitors to swell to 50 million a year in two years' time. Even France - the world's top tourist destination - only has about 70 million annually. No other city has 1.3 billion people at its doorstep, with 300 million in southern China eligible for easy entry and within an hour's reach of Hong Kong. Officials insist it is impossible to reverse the multiple entry visas for mainlanders, but other cities limit visitor numbers by choosing the people they allow in. Our immigration officers blindly allow in mainlanders who come several times a day for questionable reasons, yet closely scrutinise those from places such as the Philippines. We need to wake up and smell the time bomb.


What would one call the ugly confrontations then?

Security chief Lai Tung-kwok is unworried about the time bomb. He said we have had no "unpleasant incidents", despite the swelling number of mainland visitors. He has obviously forgotten about the ugly confrontations over mainlanders eating on the MTR, parallel-goods traders in Sheung Shui, and outside the Tsim Sha Tsui Dolce & Gabbana store. Our overpaid bureaucrats prefer to wait until after "unpleasant incidents" happen before they act. That's why we always say they need to beam back to earth from La la land.


Opposing the two-can milk powder cap is vulturous

Can you hear that screeching sound? It's the vultures crying for more. After having gorged themselves on the desperate plight of local mothers, some suppliers and retailers of baby milk powder are still not satisfied. They have ganged up to blast government measures against parallel-goods traders, which will limit outbound travellers to two cans of milk powder, as a violation of free trade. This is how such vultures see free trade: they've jacked up infant formula prices by up to 40 per cent in the past three years to profit from the lunatic mainland demand for milk powder. They cared little that their profiteering not only squeezed local mothers financially, but made it virtually impossible for them to buy infant formula. That's not free trade, it's sickening greed. Suppliers and retailers have now promised a stable supply to local mothers. Well, it's too late. The government should stand firm against these vultures. The only reason they want the two-can limit scrapped is because they want to continue cashing in on the mainland market. Local mothers should be able to buy milk powder wherever they want, whenever they want. They should not have to show the birth certificates of their babies to get a regular supply, as the vultures propose. The government will have hell to pay - we'll make sure of that - if it kowtows to the vultures.



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John Adams
Michael : I personally am not against Mainlanders . God knows - many of my best friends are from the Mainland and when they come here to HK for whatever reason they are an asset to HK and certainly do not intrude any more than I intrude when I go to China.
But do agree your logic that totally uncontrolled mass-tourism from China to HK will do more damage than good, and that many HK people ( e.g. those who need to use the KCR much more than I do) will justifiably feel very angry
Unfortunately you are right these recent incidents are reflecting badly on Hong Kong and Hong Kong people. But Michael it is not the numbers that are the problem but, as is usual with our Gov't, its apparent inability to execute policy effectively, e.g. policy decision = invite more people from other parts of the country to visit HK to boost the economy but don't have any plan on how to deal with the tourists when they come here.
Before we start acting so hysterically and excluding tourists from the mainland we really need to look at the overall structure of the economy and where we hope to gain economic benefits in the future. If we find that we are basically reliant on financial services, shipping and tourism for our income then we need to have a better plan for exploiting these resources. Michael, if we suddenly found ourselves with a larger number of ships arriving in Hong Kong, we don't start banning them. We don't restrict their numbers. We try to plan on how we can accommodate them and profit from them.
HK is a leader in logistics except when dealing with tourists. The government should come out with a 5 point plan in for dealing with the influx of Chinese tourists. Things like more hotels on Lantau, tsing Yi and near Chinese boarder points. Putting mor attractions near the boarder. Expanding Eco tourism near the boarder, country parks, strawberry picking, hiking trails (nt all tourism needs concrete). More subways (reduce the number of couch trips). Near the new Kai tak cruise terminal set up another boat doc where chine can take a boat to. HK can leverage the immigration checkpoints there which by all honesty won't be used that often to also deal with hourly mainland arrivers. This will also make all the new Kai tak attractions more profitable and allow hotels to he built earlier along the new runway.
HK has many areas to go with leveraging tourism and also meek HK people happy. Just takes planning and execution.
well what can we expect when Anthony Lau, Executive Director of the HK Tourism Board was formerly head marketing guy of Philip Morris in Singapore, a company for whom he worked for more than 20 years , shipping death around the world. So the pass-me-down HKTB top job normally handed from one Liberal party member to another, a party which has always supported the tycoons ahead of the people here, is finally stepping down from leadership of HKTB and the incoming replacement is another tycoon director of Crocodile Garments and Westminster Travel.
But the government is so GOOD at kowtowing to vultures and tyGoons!!


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