Independent trips to HK, Macao approved
( 2003-07-03 09:50) (China Daily)
Residents of Foshan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen and Dongguan in Guangdong Province will be able to visit Hong Kong and Macao on their own - without joining a tour group - as of July 28.
According to Luo Juan, deputy director-general of Guangdong's Provincial Bureau of Public Security, the four Pearl River Delta cities which border Hong Kong and Macao are just the first in the province to be given the green light for their residents to independently travel to the two regions.
Addressing a press conference in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province, yesterday, Luo said the central government has authorized the province until July 1, 2004 to grant all of its residents the right to travel on their own to Hong Kong and Macao.
Currently, Guangdong residents have to join tour groups and obtain group permits to visit Hong Kong and Macao for sightseeing.
Guangdong residents generally account for about four-fifth of the total number of mainland visitors to Hong Kong and Macao annually.
Luo said allowing Guangdong residents to visit Hong Kong and Macao on their own is not a short-term measure, but rather a long-term policy to encourage exchanges and co-operation between the mainland and Hong Kong and Macao, while promoting economic development.
Luo urged local residents to apply for their permits to visit Hong Kong and Macao at the earliest possible opportunity to avoid peak application periods.
Luo hinted that Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai and some other cities are likely to follow suit, relaxing restrictions on travel to Hong Kong and Macao, by about October if everything goes smoothly.
According to the new regulations, residents from the four cities of Foshan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen and Dongguan only need to show their identity cards and hukou (household registration) documents to apply for their travel visas to visit Hong Kong and Macao on their own beginning July 28.
Once issued with visitor permits, travellers will be allowed to stay in Hong Kong and Macao to sightsee for up to seven days .
But civil servants, managers of State-owned enterprises and staff in banks and financial sectors will still need the permission of their workplaces and obtain approval certificates to apply for their travel documents to visit the two areas.
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