From today, citizens of four Guangdong cities can visit Hong Kong on their own - but few know how to apply for a visa Many residents of four Guangdong cities who can visit Hong Kong on their own from today do not know how to apply for a permit, a survey has shown. A poll conducted by the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB) found more than 60 per cent of people from Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan and Jiangmen would like to visit Hong Kong. But the study, which interviewed 1,228 people in the four cities, showed only 19 per cent knew how to apply for a visitor permit. DAB lawmaker Chan Kam-lam urged both Hong Kong and mainland authorities to promote the new arrangements for obtaining a visa. Mr Chan also suggested that a pass similar to the home-return permit for Hong Kong residents be designed so that mainland visitors could come and go as they pleased. Under the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement between Hong Kong and the central government, residents of the four cities will from today be allowed to visit Hong Kong on their own instead of as part of a tour group. The deal will extend to the whole of Guangdong province, Beijing and Shanghai next year. Under the scheme, residents of the four cities are eligible for two permits to visit the special administrative region, for a maximum of seven days each time. Most of those eager to visit said they were attracted by sightseeing and a chance to visit tourist spots such as Ocean Park, Repulse Bay and the Peak. About 48 per cent cited shopping, saying Hong Kong had more brands and the goods were of a better quality than on the mainland. About 36 per cent said they would spend between $2,000 and $4,000 in Hong Kong, while 35 per cent indicated they would spend between $4,000 and $7,000. Many of those surveyed had friends and relatives living in Hong Kong, and only 35 per cent said they would stay in a hotel. Hu Guo-jing, deputy general manager of Dongguan International Travel Services, welcomed the relaxation of travel restrictions. His company has designed various packages for solo travellers. 'Many people have been to Hong Kong before and they know the city very well,' he said. 'It is pointless insisting that they visit Hong Kong with a tour group.' Hong Kong Hotels Association executive director James Lu Shien-hwai predicted luxury hotels would have to wait for visitors from Beijing and Shanghai to see the benefits of the new policy. 'There is no sudden increase in the number of hotel bookings from Guangdong travellers,' Mr Lu said. 'The bookings should be coming in mid-August. The climax should be at National Day golden week holiday in October.' He said they would promote Hong Kong's hotels at roadshows in Beijing and Shanghai in October. 'Those from the two cities are ready to pay for good accommodation,' Mr Lu said. 'They care more about what we can provide than the money they have to pay, and since their cities are pretty far away from us, they will stay in Hong Kong for a relatively longer period, such as three to four nights.'