• Tue
  • Sep 30, 2014
  • Updated: 1:33pm
NewsHong Kong

Lok Ma Chau mega mall plan gets lukewarm response from officials

Idea to divert mainland visitors to Lok Ma Chau is met with indifference from officials, while others say shopping centre won't solve the problem

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 March, 2014, 1:52pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 March, 2014, 4:22am

A proposal to build a shopping centre near the Lok Ma Chau border checkpoint that will be half the size of Tsim Sha Tsui's Harbour City has received a lukewarm response from the government, a lawmaker says.

The idea was floated in an attempt to relieve downtown areas of the pressure brought by mainland shoppers, but the Tourism Board preferred to leave it to private developers, said Leung Che-cheung of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong.

The DAB has said sites in San Tin, a five- to 10-minute walk from the checkpoint, have the potential to host a 1 million square foot mall.

"The tourism commissioner told us he welcomed the proposal, but that there were few public sites in the area," Leung said yesterday. "The government would take a long time to acquire land for development."

Left to the private sector, however, the project had little hope of being realised as the more than 100 land owners in the area would make co-ordination a formidable task, he said.

"I don't know all the people there. Some of them are already running businesses renting out village houses and parking lots."

The city expects an influx of visitors in the years ahead that will likely overwhelm its infrastructure. Suggestions have been made by various quarters to build a mega mall near the border that will serve the interests of mainland tourists, whose primary aim, they reason, is to shop for daily necessities.

The theory, however, does not convince Professor Lui Tai-lok, of the University of Hong Kong's sociology department.

Lui believed visitors would not be satisfied with a single shopping centre.

"They would not visit the mall unless it offered everything they needed," he said. "Imagine a mall in Fanling. Louis Vuitton won't set up a flagship store there as it would not match its brand positioning. In New York, their shop is on Fifth Avenue."

Nevertheless, tourism was a pillar industry essential for employment and economic development, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying reiterated in Beijing.

He was responding to a call on Thursday by Zhang Dejiang , who heads the Communist Party's group on Hong Kong affairs. Zhang urged the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office and the National Tourism Administration to work with Hong Kong authorities to assess the city's tourism capacity.

Leung said his government had completed a capacity assessment report and would implement its recommendations.

The city welcomed about 54.3 million visitors last year, 70 per cent of whom were from the mainland. Arrivals are expected to reach 70 million in 2017.

Locals staged protests against mainland shoppers last month. The ensuing stern official condemnation notwithstanding, they found support among fellow Hongkongers who believed their grievances were legitimate but not being addressed.

A caller to RTHK said: "Hongkongers are living very unhappy lives. The trade sectors must welcome more tourists because that means profits. And deputies to the National People's Congress speak only of business interests."

In the latest protest against mainlanders, 10 NeoDemocrats used cardboard cut-outs of tinned sardines at Admiralty MTR station to imply overcrowding. The group rejected an idea to remove seats from carriages to make space for more passengers.

It called for a quota on the Individual Visit Scheme, which allows mainlanders from 49 cities to visit Hong Kong without having to join tours.



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The hypermall *would* generate ample employment in the planned New Town of Kwu Tung, I guess. But they won't be jobs anyone would actually want.
How much LV **** does one need in a lifetime? Man alive.
How about building a number of shopping centres along the highway to Shenzhen or somewhere on Lantau Island? There could be several "outlet style" shopping centres within an area each specialising in a different segment, such as high end fashion and accessories, one for electronics, one for kids, or some combination. Combine this with an online shopping element where items can be ordered online and picked up in-store, or delivered to a transportation hub.
In theory, the lower rents, with lower land prices in outlying regions and lower cost per sq ft for construction would keep product prices lower. It would be attractive to not only tourists, but also locals.
But of course, the developers would be totally against this as it would mean that they can no longer charge exorbitant rents. We could resolve this by inviting tier one mainland developers in the tender process. We can fund the land with a small "tax" on goods purchase equivalent to 1%, paid by the retailer, but transparent to the consumer. Lower rents could lower cost of occupancy by 10%, add 1% as tax, pass on 5% as savings to consumers, and you'd still have a win situation for all.
I really miss the local "mom-and-pop" food places and the stores where owners knew you by name and appreciated your business.
If they really want to build something attractive, need to me mega the size should be 2 to 5 times of TsT mall. Professor, if 40m mainland visitor all buying one LV for say 5k, that will be 40m x 5k, and is 400B HKD! Not all are buying LV. In Shatin mall, already taking in a lot of mainland tourist. Not everyone go to Sas Fith in NY too. But I guess many will against this as the current stack holders will against this particularly the landlords!
Professor, have you been to mongkok recently? Mongkok has no LV but many mainland visitors. They shop mostly electronic, clothing not top of the line probably nike or Adidas. The others possibility if to build few shooing mall connected specialized in electronics, clothing, daily stuff etc..connected via shuttle. But ideally should build a mega mall the size of 2 to 10 times of the current tST them people will go there as this is becoming a landmark. The "mall". I'm sure LV will be interested. If the price is right. And if the branding is right.
The national official raised in the meeting if Hong Kong is up to measure to treat mainland tourists so that they would have a pleasant visit in Hong Kong. If the official looks beyond the local protests against those visitors, the simple answer is that Hong Kong will never be able to guarantee the official that mainland visitors wouldn’t be received without protests from locals. The simple logic is that a finite Hong Kong environment with 7 million inhabitants living and working can’t be that easy to take on an infinite number out of 1.3 billions of mainlanders.
If the official takes notice of the uncivil situation, it is time to ration the supply of tourists to match what Hong Kong can do to play more a civilized host. There are greedy people on both side of the border officials and tourist sector respectively who are egging on oversupplying of visitors to swarm the city of Hong Kong which is fighting for space even without any visitors visiting.
The visiting rule must be reviewed to put a daily quota in place if happiness for visitors and locals can be had. It is all common sense and should not be a power play between David and Goliath. Here, the Goliath would never be slaughtered but David actually would be literally crushed.
Just because many of us have shown restraints and watch quietly behind the TV doesn't mean we don't feel a bit "good" inside. The wise are those that chuckles and not having to get their hands dirty, but quick to point fingers all in the name of civility. Hypocrisy has been embedded in the human genes since the dawn of time.


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