• Thu
  • Aug 21, 2014
  • Updated: 5:48am
NewsHong Kong

CY Leung hints at new controls on Hong Kong’s growing tourism numbers

Chief executive says government is aware that growing visitor total is affecting residents' lives and is investigating ways to 'regulate' influx

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 April, 2014, 5:08pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 April, 2014, 4:34am

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has hinted for the first time that his administration is considering controls on the number of tourists in Hong Kong.

He admitted that the rising volume of visitors in recent years had "affected the daily lives" of residents, especially commuters and shoppers.

He said: "The government is aware of this, and we are studying ways to regulate the growth … of incoming travellers.

"But we also want to increase our capacity to accommodate tourists."

His comments came after Zhang Dejiang , Beijing's official in charge of Hong Kong affairs, urged the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office and the National Tourism Administration to work with Hong Kong officials to assess the city's tourism capacity. Leung has previously snubbed calls to review the individual visit scheme, launched in 2003, which allows 270 million people from 49 cities to visit Hong Kong without joining tour groups.

Last year, the number of visitors rose 11.7 per cent to 54 million. They included 41 million from the mainland - with more than half arriving under the individual visit scheme.

The influx has boosted the retail, catering and property sectors in the city, but has annoyed residents by causing congestion on public transport and at popular leisure spots.

However, Leung refused to elaborate on how visitor numbers may be adjusted, such as whether the individual traveller scheme would be reviewed.

"As it involves discussion with the central government, as well as provincial and municipal authorities, we should not discuss what we might do until we come up with answers," he said.

Leung was speaking yesterday after taking a boat trip to inspect progress on an artificial island being built near Lantau for border checkpoints on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge.

Leung said the government would consider building hotels and shopping malls on a commercial site at the airport and the artificial island.

He said this could alleviate pressure on existing shopping areas and commercial facilities.

In January, a government report predicted visitor numbers could increase to 70 million in 2017 and 100 million in 2023, fuelling concerns about the city's capacity to cope.

But a month later, Leung rejected a pan-democrat proposal to tax visitors arriving by land to curb the influx.

"They have created massive job opportunities … we should not be conceited before getting rich," the chief executive said at the time.

Tourism sector lawmaker Yiu Si-wing said while he agreed with studying the "structure" of the tourism industry, there was no need to curb visitor numbers.

"It might send the wrong message - that Hong Kong no longer welcomes travellers," Yiu said.


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This article is now closed to comments

The problem with tourism growth really only stems from the uncontrolled volumes of mainlanders coming to HK on a daily basis............Other than that, there are no problems with visitors from around the world. The only thing the HK government needs to do (and with China's blessing) is to set quotas and restrict the number of mainlanders that can come to HK............the current system makes it too easy for them to just come down whenever they want.
This is exactly the only thing that needs to be done. Setting quota for mainland tourists. Tourists from the other 198 countries don't really constitute much of a problem. It's about time the government starts to wake up. They are probably too busy applying for foreign passports before the new colonial masters turn HK into a total shambles.
To chu....
Do not rule out the possibility that it is through CY Leung’s ‘quiet diplomacy’ with central government that decisions are being made.
It seems to me that someone with a professional training fairs the best as a CE for HKSAR. A businessman who Tung was proved to be a focus for other businessmen’s envy (with all his business connections abroad) and got rid of him; a civil servant who Tsang was proved to be following a collusion path with the businessmen that has had climaxed unprecedented social unrest, so may be a professional who CY Leung is so far has done more reform in two years than his predecessors in 7 years to be the best choice.
This is precisely the problem with CY. He knew of the problem a few years ago but states as if the problem had just erupted. Every time he proposes a solution it is preceded by someone from Beijing announcing something. CY must take some lessons in crisis management and not seem to be a giant in slumber mode and getting woken up by a thunderstorm.
Maybe it's a good idea to stop all those Hong Kong people that cross the Lowu border 4 or 5 times a day to sell products and earn money in Lowu train station. Milk , cigarets , pampers , wine , they bring everything to the mainland. Te thousand of people cross the border so many time every day , crazy
Tourism has been a backbone of the Hong Kong SAR economy for ages and it is totally inadvisable to tamper with it in anyway whatsoever. In fact, even without any control measures, a cursory look around tourist centres at usually busy hours would give one the impression that inflow of visitors has been thinning of late with some popular shopping areas almost deserted! Further, most of the tourists from the mainland are one time visitors apparently longing to visit the territory which to them is affluent and it is inappropriate to restrain them from fulfilling their obvious dream! With the Hong Kong SAR economic growth showing signs of sluggishness, there ought to be utmost caution in taking any steps that would only worsen it. Whereas ways and means of meeting the needs of visitors should be explored and implemented as it is imperative to ensure a steady inflow of income from various sources which will only be beneficial to have a sustainable economic growth which is what the territory needs in the years ahead! Do not strike the golden goose, it will be sheer short-sightedness!
Don't over-analyze the problem, Mr. Chief Executive. Just do it.
Two achievements he proudly claimed credit due to his bright initiative : HK Land for HK people and the Chinese tourist influx. The first one ended up negative assets for some, the second one now he has no choice but to agree on some kind of regulation, why ? The master Zhang Dejiang has openly given the order to Leung Chun Ying's boss, how can he ignore it ?
This kind of leadership of waiting until problems occur before acting is the worst kind.
After limiting support for internationally recognized and broadcasted sports events (HK OPEN, FORMULA E, to name a few) we now want to close our doors to tourism? Are we becoming a hermit state?




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