Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on Tuesday pledged to control the number of incoming mainland individual visitors after Shenzhen earlier announced it would allow regular visits by 4.1 million non-permanent residents from next month.
Leung said his government was concerned the city’s infrastructure might be put under strain by the influx of travellers from across the border.
“We will control the number of incoming visitors and at the same time build more facilities at popular tourist locations,” he said, outside the government’s headquarters before attending an Executive Council meeting.
Leung said the number of mainland cities which allowed residents to visit Hong Kong on the Individual Visit Scheme had not been raised for some time because the central government was also concerned about the impact.
Over the past nine years the scope of the scheme – which allows mainland tourists to travel to Hong Kong by themselves rather than in a tour group – has been expanded from the initial four cities to 49, making 270 million people eligible to visit Hong Kong.
The new policy announced by Shenzhen will make multiple-entry permits available to millions of residents of the border city who do not hold hukou, or household registration documents.
Previously, non-permanent residents of Shenzhen had to return to their home provinces to apply for multiple-entry permits, although they have been allowed single-entry passes since 2010.
Multiple-entry permits were made available to Shenzhen hukou holders in April 2009.