The restricted area at the border will be opened for eco-tourism on weekends and public holidays in the next two months, the government said yesterday. Principal Assistant Secretary for Security Chan Cheng Wan-yuk told the Heung Yee Kuk areas such as the Sha Tau Kok pier would be opened for eco-tourism, with travellers taking boat trips to visit the Starling Inlet in the northeast New Territories. To protect areas that have high ecological value from damage, visitors will need to apply for permits to enter the restricted area. Applications will only be accepted for group tours arranged through authorised travel agents. 'The opening of the restricted area must be conducted without undermining the security of Hong Kong,' said Mrs Chan. The Conservancy Association's chief executive, Lister Cheung Lai-ping, voiced caution about the plan, questioning whether the Security Bureau was the appropriate body to decide on eco-tourism issues. 'Opening the restricted areas at the border is certainly the work of the Security Bureau. But on the issue of eco-tourism, I doubt if it has the ecological knowledge and expertise to make the decision.'