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China Daily Website

HK to work with mainland on tourist control

Updated: 2012-09-03 13:31
By Fan Feifei and Kahon Chan ( China Daily HK Edition)

The Hong Kong SAR government will work out a mechanism with the central government and mainland local authorities in the next three weeks to ensure that the city's capacity to accept visitors is not overburdened by a heavy influx of mainland tourists.

Some 4.1 million non-permanent residents of Shenzhen will become eligible to apply for multiple-entry travel permits to Hong Kong effective on Saturday. Under previous rules, a non-permanent resident would be required to return to his home town to apply for a Hong Kong travel permit. The new policy has drawn concerns from different sectors in Hong Kong since it was revealed last week.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said while he believes the new measure was put forward with the good intention to boost the city's economy, the central government has been well informed of the concerns.

"I have conveyed the public views on the new arrangement to the central government, which has attached great importance to this issue and has responded positively," he said, adding that the central government has agreed to adjust the travel permit quota in accordance with the city's capacity.

As it will take three weeks for Shenzhen authorities to process the first applications, Leung said the SAR government will negotiate with the mainland authorities to ensure that the new arrangement will not add more pressure to local infrastructure.

A group of officials, including the Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok and Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Gregory So Kam-leung, has been formed to evaluate the city's attractions and border control points, in an attempt to establish the number of tourists the facilities will bear. The group will work closely with mainland authorities.

Leung said the group aims to establish a mechanism that will allow the mainland authority to take Hong Kong's capacity into account when issuing travel permits to mainlanders. He did not respond when asked if a cap on the number of travel permits was on the agenda.

Both the Hong Kong Tourism Board and Travel Industry Council welcomed the announcement. Michael Wu Siu-ying, chairman of the council, said the council was still looking for more details on the new travel permit measures, noting that the mainland authority had launched the multiple-entry travel permit policy in phases when it was opened for Shenzhen residents.