• Thu
  • Aug 21, 2014
  • Updated: 6:54pm
NewsHong Kong
TOURISM

Annual tourists to Hong Kong could rise to 70 million in three years, commission says

City could see 30 per cent increase in visitors within three years, as residents worry about impact on public transport and shopping areas

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 January, 2014, 6:31pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 January, 2014, 4:46pm

Hong Kong could receive 70 million tourists annually within three years and 100 million within a decade, mostly from the mainland, according to Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So Kam-leung.

So claimed yesterday the city's services could cope with more visitors but admitted there could be problems, such as congestion on the MTR.

The forecast brought an angry response from critics who said officials had failed to take into account the impact of increased tourism on residents and should set limits. They also predicted more conflict between locals and mainland tourists.

Based on "rather conservative assumptions" of a steady rise in mainland visitors - who numbered 40.8 million last year - and a slight increase in overseas travellers, a government report forecast an increase to 70 million in 2017 from 54.3 million last year and to 100 million in 2023.

So said an assessment of control points, tourist attractions and public transport indicated the increase would not overwhelm capacity in 2017 but did not mention the effect in 2023.

As Hong Kong was an open port, "we cannot and should not set a limit to the number of visitors", he said, adding that tourism accounted for 4.5 per cent of the city's gross domestic product and provided 230,000 jobs.

"There will be an impact on citizens … they may not be able to get on the MTR and need to wait for the next train," he said.

Activist Roy Tam Ho-pong said this was already being felt.

"What the government says is a big contrast to how the citizens feel," Tam, of the Population Policy Concern Group, said. "I just waited for six MTR trains at Admiralty station before I could get on one."

He criticised the report for failing to include a survey of the local population's views.

"The streets are full of shops selling cosmetics, electronics, gold jewellery and pharmacies," he said. "Citizens are angry about the elimination of shops which cater to their needs."

Lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching said a limit on tourist arrivals should be set. "Further increases will sharpen the antagonism between tourists and citizens," she said.

Tourism figures including Travel Industry Council executive director Joseph Tung Yao-chung and tourism sector lawmaker Yiu Si-wing found the estimate reasonable. They said more hotels should be encouraged, especially in rural areas.

The government said it aimed to divert visitors to less conventional attractions and to Lantau. While its report said services could cope in 2017 there were warning signs. Three of the 14 immigration control points - the airport, Hung Hom and Shenzhen Bay - saw their highest number of passengers in the first half of last year, exceeding the designated handling capacity.

The average annual increase in passengers of 6.1 per cent in recent years was many times that of the increase in manpower for the Immigration Department and Customs, which was 0.1 per cent to 0.3 per cent. But the report does not comment on the capacity of shopping areas in the tourist areas of Mong Kok, Tsim Sha Tsui and Causeway Bay. A Tourism Commission spokesman said it was difficult to assess capacity scientifically. Accommodation could lag behind the increase. Hotel rooms will increase from 70,000 last year to 84,000 in 2017.

In response to suggestions for a mall at the border to cater for mainland shoppers, the government will conduct a feasibility study on the development potential of the northern New Territories, including Lok Ma Chau.

As most of the sites there were privately owned, it would be more efficient for the private sector to drive development, the report suggests.

 

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This article is now closed to comments

johnyuan
With that 70 to 100 million rise in tourists in Hong Kong, We will have Occupy Central, Occupy Wanchai, Occupy Causeway Bay or even my old old neighborhood – Occupy Caine Road. In fact all Hong Kong minus the New Territories because it is a wasteland there.
johnyuan
This official projection is not quite a scenario. It is more setting a goal by one government department head in collusion with the tourist sector. After this PR exercise, the few local chambers of commerce, the few legislators would lobby the rest of the government departments to prepare for the arrival of the makeup tourists. It works marvelously by putting the cart before the horse. It cut through all obstacles and have the public carelessly acquiescence in the wickeder scheme in profit hoarding by the few in the future. Without an outcry from the public, it will succeed.
.
For me, this laughable projection without care of its repercussion to the society is a one man concoction in the government without being vetted by the rest of the Administration. So Kam-leung, the author of this report in a more matured government setup, he would be shown to the door by his superior for his dishonesty and mindlessness. CY Leung should have a better means to make your Administration working as a team like a mature government should.
pragmatist
HK is fundamentally inexperienced in running its affairs. I suppose we might be expecting too much from novice administrators/ politicians.
johnyuan
This otherwise a total laughable projection of what to come in a decade without examining its consequence is a good example how government officials operate. The civil servants otherwise they are seem to exist for money making businesses. They forget to include the well being of the public really.
.
Here So Kam-leung who might as well employed by the tourism industry colluding with the industry boldly but stupidly doing his master's bidding. I just wondering if this tourism plan has been vetted and approved by the government as a whole?
.
It's such a childplay treating Hong Kong as a sandbox?
ngsw
I also think of the blessings that more they come, more they will learn HK’s civilized social habits. At least they are aware that spitting, littering, jaywalking and queue jumping are not welcomed. A bit naive? Or a wishful hope that will never become real?
pragmatist
set limits for visitors, unless of course you want HK to be just a destination for tourists...with an exodus of the locals.
lbsaw
If anyone who want a peaceful, tranquil and relaxing holiday, DON'T come to Hong Kong. This should be the slogan for Hong Kong tourism. This city is already over crowded as can be seen at the cramped MTR trains, the crowded streets, the long queues at Ocean Park, and even the queues at the supermarkets check-out counters. This city is basically a place to shop, albeit in a less than courteous environment, make money from business opportunities (getting less and one must be blinkered in just looking at money with no emotions or sentiments), and for those who enjoys supporting the branded fashions (and encourage pollution, disparity and abuse of cheap labour). There is no natural beauty in the city as it's all about new buildings, shopping malls and crowded places (where having a normal meal is always at a rush).
morrismak
But the spending per tourist will probably go down compared to previous years. this means Hk needs to spend more to tackle the problem while revenue per tourist will decrease
chaz_hen
I would imagine this "Chicken Little" article is aimed at justifying that 3rd runway at the airport?
jtc
Is this a variant of the Chinese colonization of Tibet, Xinjiang, Mongolia? Only instead of swamping the local population with Han settlers, HK is being inundated with mainland tourists, plus 55,000 mainland settlers per year (based on 150/day). Historically, such a strategy has highlighted previously-latent cultural differences, reinforced cultural identity (of the colonized) and generated resistance from the locals. No wonder there's an incipient movement for HK "independence".

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