City is full: Rita Fan issues tourist alert
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National People's Congress heavyweight Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai said no new multiple-entry permits for individual mainland tourists should be issued.
Her remarks came after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying refused to confirm or deny rumours that the government was poised to scrap these permits.
"The multiple-entry permit scheme should be put on hold to ease the influx [of mainland travellers]," Fan said on the sidelines of the annual NPC session, where she has been elected to the 178-member presidium, which takes charge of the procedures of the session.
"[Some tourists] now have no accommodation and are left to sleep on a bus … It is not only inconvenient to travellers, but also bad for Hong Kong's image as a tourism hub," she added.
Fan said that no new multiple-entry permits should be issued until Hong Kong boosted related facilities and services for holidaymakers.
"Tourism facilities in Hong Kong have almost reached their limit," she said.
Fan was asked if Leung - who is also in Beijing where nearly 3,000 NPC delegates have gathered - had stirred up tension between mainlanders and Hongkongers by limiting the amount of infant formula people can take out of the city in one day. Demand for imported milk powder on the mainland is massive following the 2008 scandal when six children died after drinking milk adulterated with melamine.
Fan, who is expected to be re-elected to the NPC standing committee, said: "The policy was put forward in a rush … I won't rule out that [the government] did not consider mainlanders' feelings when rolling it out."
Fan also commented on Leung's failure to get the public behind him. She said it could be a result of his frequent refusal to address questions of public concern, allowing doubts to linger.
Fan added that, unlike Leung, she would not have issued a lawyer's letter to the Hong Kong Economic Journal after a commentary that linked him with triads.