Quick fix needed for visitor chaos at Tung Chung
- Arrival of thousands of people from the mainland on public transport via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge has raised fears among residents, and the authorities are trying to ensure there is no repeat
Thanks to coordination between the government and transport operators, the chaos at the port area of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge over the past two weekends has been largely resolved. But as entry and exit numbers continue to surge, the areas nearby are already feeling the heat, with Tung Chung overrun by tens of thousands of short-term mainland visitors last Sunday. Better measures are needed to tackle the problem.
Similar to the confusion arising from the opening of the mega bridge, the chaos in Tung Chung could have been averted through better communication. Residents were shocked to see so many mainlanders in their neighbourhood over the weekend. Instead of arriving in coaches, these group tours came on public transport. Their itinerary included a stopover at the bridge, followed by a visit to Tung Chung, where they could have meals and do their shopping before returning home. Local tourism leaders said the tours were of unknown origin and had breached rules for all inbound tours to be received by Hong Kong agents. The authorities should take up the matter with their mainland counterparts.
Tung Chung has had a taste of tourism due to its proximity to attractions such as Ngong Ping 360, Tai O fishing village and Disneyland. The opening of the world’s longest sea crossing in late October has inevitably amplified the impact, as reflected in the long queues and empty shelves in local restaurants and pharmacies. While businesses are happy with the windfall, some disgruntled residents compared the herds of tourists to animal migration in Africa and feared their community would soon be the next Sheung Shui, the nearest stop in the northern New Territories for cross-border shoppers and parallel traders.
At stake is not just the livelihood of local residents. The chaos has also put off visitors and become counter publicity for cross-border tourism authorities that are joining hands to lure more overseas visitors to the region. Officials, to their credit, have swiftly adjusted transport logistics with those parties involved in an attempt to avoid further chaos. The same sense of urgency is needed to deal with the pressure arising from the influx of visitors to Tung Chung.