One trip per week policy for Shenzhen residents gains local support

Survey shows more Hongkongers now believe policy for Shenzhen residents has benefits for the city

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 January, 2017, 10:26pm
UPDATED : Monday, 09 January, 2017, 10:31pm

Hongkongers seem to be warming to the “one trip per week” ­policy for Shenzhen residents ­visiting the city, with almost half of respondents to a survey on the topic believing it had done more good than harm.

The study, by the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at the Chinese University Hong Kong, asked 754 residents for their views on the current individual visit scheme.

Under the multiple-entry scheme, residents from 49 mainland cities can visit Hong Kong as individual travellers instead of having to join tour groups. First launched in 2003, the scheme has not included any new cities since 2007.

Shenzhen imposes once-a-week limit on cross-border visits to Hong Kong by permanent residents

But April 2015, the Central Government limited Shenzhen permanent residents to just one visit per week, a move aimed at reining in parallel trading activities.

The poll showed 49.5 per cent of the respondents thought replacing the multiple-entry visit scheme with the “one trip per week” entry requirement brought more benefits to Hong Kong, while nearly 22 per cent thought the move brought detriments to the city.

Some 55.5 per cent said that mainland visitors brought inconvenience to their everyday lives, down from 62.6 per cent in 2015.

Opposition to the solo travel scheme has eased with 35 per cent wanting to further limit it, drastically down from 66.7 per cent in February 2015, two months before the policy came into effect.

Slump in Shenzhen visitors to Hong Kong but parallel traders are still everywhere, locals complain

Forty-seven per cent preferred to keep the status quo, an increase of 21.9 percentage points from the 2015 survey, with about 13.3 per cent hoping to expand the scheme, up from last survey’s 3.4 per cent.

Also, 44 per cent viewed the scheme as beneficial to Hong Kong, up from 33 per cent in the previous survey, while 30 per cent believed it is detrimental, down from 36 per cent in 2015.

“Overall, the current attitude towards the current individual visit scheme was less negative than the last survey,” the report said.

Economist Andy Kwan Cheuk-chiu, director of the ACE Centre for Business and Economic Research said: “It’s undeniable that the move has adversely affected the retail sales. But this is the economic cost that we need to pay to cure social ills,” he said. “On the bright side, it has pushed down the rental prices and brought a wide variety of goods to cater to different people.”