The effort by Shenzhen and Hong Kong to overcome the financial crisis would strengthen the partnership between the cities, Shenzhen's mayor said in Beijing yesterday. Xu Zongheng said the flow of people and cash between the two cities would increase in the coming year thanks to a new visa agreement and building of cross-border transport and economic infrastructure. Mr Xu said that the number of Shenzhen residents who qualified for the simplified tourism visa application procedure could reach nearly 9 million by May. Among them, more than 2 million citizens holding the city's permanent residence permits would be allowed to apply for multiple-entry tourism visas, a measure experts see as greatly encouraging tourism. Citizens without the permit, such as migrant workers from inland provinces, would be eligible to apply for single-entry visas. Previously, they had to return to their place of birth to get approval from public security bureaus there. 'Our government has done a huge amount of work to make it happen and I think the new policy will have a positive impact on Hong Kong's prosperity and social stability,' Mr Xu said. Experts from the cities are compiling a proposal to build cross-border facilities, including customs, and it would be submitted to Beijing when the first stage was completed. But he did not give a specific timeline or further details.