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  • Nov 29, 2014
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TOURISM

Lantau group looks to court mainland China tourists

The alliance of businesses wants to develop the island to help divert visitors from overcrowded areas, but its plan has been met with scepticism

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 March, 2013, 11:15am
 

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  • Yes: 22%
  • No: 78%
11 Mar 2013
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Total number of votes recorded: 309

A business alliance's proposal to develop Lantau Island into a commercial zone to divert tourists from overcrowded districts has sparked heated debate.

The plan by the Lantau Economic Development Alliance - which comprises 10 Lantau-based companies and community groups such as Disneyland, AsiaWorld-Expo and Ngong Ping 360 - has been met with scepticism from district councillors who challenge its feasibility.

The alliance's vice-chairman, Andrew Kam Min-ho, yesterday said the Hong Kong-ZhuhaiMacau bridge's expected completion in 2016 was an opportunity to divert mainland tourists from the busy Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui areas to Lantau Island.

"The problem at present is that the tourists are overcrowding some places," Kam, who is also Disneyland's managing director, told a Commercial Radio show. "And the rents have become high because of it. Even the MTR is more crowded [in the busy districts]."

He said that if more shopping malls were built in Tung Chung, a new town on Lantau, tourists would be drawn there and more jobs could be created for the locals. "Sometimes tourists don't just want to buy high-end products … Shops on Lantau Island could sell more popular commodities [and] tourists could buy daily products there [too]," he said.

The alliance's chairman Allen Ha, who is also the AsiaWorld-Expo chief executive, said the alliance recently submitted its proposal to the government.

Lawmaker and Islands district councillor Tang Ka-piu supported the plan, agreeing with Kam that some frequent mainland visitors preferred to buy daily items over higher-end goods.

But Yau Tsim Mong district councillor Chan Wai-keung cast doubt on the feasibility of the plan.

"It's all about the reputation of the district," he said. "Mainland tourists like to tell their friends that they went shopping in Tsim Sha Tsui's Canton Road and not in Tung Chung. It takes time for a district to develop its reputation."

Chan also said tourists would not go all the way to Tung Chung to shop for daily items when they could do so in places that were more accessible, such as in Sha Tin or Sheung Shui.

Central and Western district councillor Cheng Lai-king said it would be hard to divert tourists from the busy districts such as Causeway Bay to Tung Chung unless all the high-fashion shops moved there as well.

"It's like, if you visit Beijing, of course you want to go to Wangfujing," she said. Wangfujing is a popular place for shopping and dining in Beijing's Dongcheng district.

The alliance will be holding a recruitment event at the AsiaWorld-Expo on March 23, where 1,000 jobs will be on offer.

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This article is now closed to comments

oxymoron1
They opened a can worms and now it's retribution.
mymak
These private companies that are putting forward their proposal could just simply assume the investment risk themselves and get on and build hotels, shopping malls, whatever. But actually by forming this 'Alliance' and putting forward a proposal they are actually asking for the taxpayers to put up a chunk of the cash.
chaz_hen
A chunk of the cash? More like THE chunk of the cash!
HK-Explorer
If you go to Tung Chung on the weekend it is packed with people. restaurants are full, massive lineup at the cable car. Tons of hikers. The shops in Citygate are full. the women's washroom always has a 20 person lineup. Tung Chung is already full with current infrastructure. Anyone who says Tung Chung lacks tourists has not been there in 2 years.
Tung Chung does not lack tourists it lacks shops, malls and restaurants. I don't think the organization is asking for handouts. They are asking for the government to sell more land. there will be developers willing to build the malls and attractions.
Tung Chung is booming and breaking at the seems with current Infrastructure. It needs more now or it will become just like MK and TST with residents getting sick of lines.
HK-Explorer
The whole question is will tourists go to Tung Chung if there are more facilities. The author seemed to say no because too far. But actually it already is a massive tourist place.
I also lived in Tung Chung for a while and when I went back last weekend I saw a massive change. Restaurants were all full and lineups everywhere. However I support the idea of building another mall (hopefully right next to citygate). I think it will make Tung Chung better. Another hotel would be great also as Novotel looks pretty packed and popular.
just takes good planning.
HK-Explorer
There are many other reasons that make Tung Chung he place. recently announced Citygate expansion. Macau Zhuhai Bridge. Access to Lantau country parks and hiking trails. (they should expand Pui o campground).
The Tung Chung line will be extended to Admiralty and Wan Chai (making it even more accessible to tourists).
If you look at all the coming changes there is nowhere else like Tung Chung. It will become a central area in Hong Kong. Lantau is one of the last big areas of expansion. Lantau is bigger than HK island thus allowing allot of growth in leisure and travel.
yiufkwok2
In order to divert the visitors, not only the Mainlanders, it is good to build regional-unique infrastructures with different kinds of functions such as entertainment and catering. Lantau is one of the options but not the unique one.
Like Tin Shui Wai, a well-known satellite region in Hong kong, the government can consider how to thrive the region with good use of the unique features of Tin Shui Wai. When plan can be run smoothly, other deep-rooted problems can be eased, for example the wealth gap and reputation.
This news not only raises the awareness of diverting the tourists but also the economies of other developing regions in Hong kong.
HK-Explorer
Tin Shui Wai is not a good region to develop into a Tourist Hub. There is no anchor there. Tung Chung already has Disney, Non Ping Cable Car, Asia World Expo and the Hong Kong Airport. These 4 major attractions are what makes Tung Chung successful as a tourist hub. (also near by discovery bay residents). Without those Tung Chung would be empty (like it used to be).
By adding extra malls and other tourist attractions it solely builds on the current Tourist items and makes people want to stay longer.
Tin Shui Wai on the other hand would have to put in 100X the effort and use allot of government money to build up a tourist industry. I cannot think of anything that would draw huge numbers of people there. Thus would just be a failure and a waste of government money.
mymak
I am in Tung Chung every single day. Over the last ten years it has evolved from a residential area to one that is under enormous pressure from tourism. Many people moved to Tung Chung prior to it being a tourist center and they have seen their quality of life slowly eroded. Put simply tourism (and it doesn't matter the origin of the tourists) and ordinary daily life don't mix well. Residents are already sick of lines and building more fancy malls will not reduce the pressure on local residents but only increase it. City Gate is after all now a tourist shopping center and any new malls will be exactly the same, while (and even though the Alliance claims otherwise) the number of supermarkets and other ordinary shops will not increase.
At the end of the day we shouldn't always be expected to fund private corporations without an entitlement to dividends.
mymak
That's fair comment. But, the existing local shopping centre on the opposite side needs some protection. Whether that is through rent control or a limit on what type of shops can be present, I don't know. But there is a real danger that local residents could be left travelling long distances to buy daily necessities if it is just left to market forces and the strategies of the landlords.

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