Hongkongers planning to stay at a popular Pui O campsite during the upcoming long mainland public holidays will be able to book in advance, to avoid getting squeezed out by visitors from across the border.
The new arrangement is a reaction to overcrowding during the "golden week" holiday last October at the campsite on southern Lantau Island.
Mainlanders were blamed for some Hongkongers being unable to get camping spots.
Advance bookings will only be taken for the Pui O campsite managed by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.
The service will not be availale for the department's other campsite at Butterfly Beach Park in Tuen Mun, or to 40 other designated campsites in the city's country parks, managed by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.
"During the Mid-Autumn Festival last year, which was coincidentally also a "golden week" holiday on the mainland, a large number of visitors arrived to use the campsite facilities, causing serious overcrowding problems," a spokeswoman for the Leisure and Cultural Services Department said.
"To avoid a recurrence … new booking arrangements are in place for the three coming long holidays in mainland China," she added. Those are the Labour Day "golden week" in May, the National Day "golden week" in October and the Lunar New Year holiday next year.
The bookings are only open to Hong Kong residents. Those making a booking should submit an application one month before the date they want to camp.
Civic Party lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching said the arrangement was a direct response to a public need, but it was saddening that "Hong Kong land for Hong Kong people" has to be extended to "Hong Kong parks for Hong Kong people".
"This immediate measure is better than nothing. But for the longer term, the government has to review the city's tourism policy and evaluate how many tourists we can take every year," Mo said.