Legal doubts over bridge tours amid Tung Chung buzz

Top News | Charlotte Luo 6 Nov 2018

Some of the one-day package tours to Tung Chung through the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge may not have any local travel agencies as host, casting doubts on their legality.

Almost 103,000 people crossed the Hong Kong border of the bridge on Sunday - the highest since its October 24 launch.

Hundreds of mainlanders were seen in downtown Tung Chung that day waiting for buses to take them to the Hong Kong checkpoint of the bridge.

Concerned Tung Chung residents yesterday continued to complain about the sudden surge in tourists, with one saying the amount of plastic bottles left behind has turned the whole district into an "un-Hong Kong-like place."

Others said restaurants and malls have been overwhelmed by tourists while students said could not find any seats during lunch break.

Hong Kong Tourism Association executive director Timothy Chui Ting-pong said some tour groups to Tung Chung did not register with the Travel Industry Council.

According to the Travel Agents Ordinance, a tour that comes to Hong Kong must work with a local agency.

Council chairman Jason Wong Chun-tat said some tourists joined "bridge experience tours" in which they simply cross the bridge and visit Tung Chung only.

He said those might have been arranged to come to Hong Kong on coaches by an agency in Zhuhai and that they might not even have itineraries.

Lawmaker Holden Chow Ho-ding of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, who is also a Tung Chung district councillor, said he had a meeting with the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, which he requested to communicate with mainland authorities to enhance law enforcement on illegal tours.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah said some mainlanders might have joined tours that did not "fully comply with regulations" and the government had already brought up the issue with mainland authorities, including the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office in Guangdong province.

He said they also told SAR travel agencies to contact mainland agencies.

Transport Secretary Frank Chan Fan, said the government will study what can be done to relieve the stress created by the influx of tourists into Tung Chung.

"We are looking into the possibility of moving the bus station elsewhere," he said. "At the same time, we have to make sure that there is sufficient space for passengers to queue.

charlotte.luo@singtaonewscorp.com

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