Workers stranded in Guangzhou unable to obtain permits for tours

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 February, 2008, 12:00am

Migrant workers stranded in Guangzhou by the transport chaos before the Lunar New Year did not join discount tours to Hong Kong because travel-permit applications had to be made in their hometowns, China Travel Service said yesterday.

'We expected more people to come to Hong Kong. However, they weren't allowed to obtain travel permits' in Guangzhou, China Travel Service deputy general manager Jeremy Xu Mu-han said.

The agency reported receiving more than HK$1 million in donations from Hong Kong businesspeople to organise tours for workers in Guangzhou who could not return home for the holiday amid snowstorms and freezing conditions.

Although CTS offered an HK$80 package to Hong Kong Disneyland, one-fifth of the normal price, only 17 people took advantage. Most of them were white-collar workers who had visited Hong Kong before or held business permits.

About 7,000 stranded workers joined a trip to China Folk Culture Village in Shenzhen, and more than 1,000 went to Ocean Spring Resort in Zhuhai. Those two packages were offered free.

CTS said about 10,000 workers would take part in the tours before they ended next Monday. 'Our aim is to let them celebrate the festival happily with others. The location is not so important,' Mr Xu said.

CTS had been in talks with Hong Kong officials to discuss the permit problem, he said, adding: 'It will take a long time to find solutions.'

Hunan native Long Linxian, who joined the Shenzhen tour yesterday with about 1,600 Guangzhou workers, said she would have liked to have spent the holiday in Hong Kong and taken her family to Disneyland if she had not needed to return to Hunan to get the permit.

But Shi Piaohuang, also from Hunan, said he would not have paid HK$80 to visit Hong Kong, even if he could have obtained a permit in Guangzhou. 'I don't have the money to go to Hong Kong. I'm earning about 1,000 yuan a month.'