Kai Tak detour pushed to ease bridge-tourist woes

Top News | Cindy Wan 14 Jan 2019

Lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching wants mainland tour groups diverted to the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal following complaints of massive crowds and double-parked buses in Hung Hom and To Kwa Wan since the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge opened.

It is a popular itinerary for these tourists to start with a boat trip along Victoria Harbour and get off at the Kowloon City Ferry Pier before having lunch in Hung Hom or To Kwa Wan.

The tourists follow their tour guides to several designated restaurants and shops, barely visiting other establishments in the area.

Following the surge of arrivals after the mega bridge opened in October, residents in the two districts have complained that more tour buses have clogged the streets, raising concerns about safety of students.

To ease the traffic burden, Mo suggested diverting the tours from the Kowloon City Ferry Pier to the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in Kowloon Bay. The terminal has a lower utilization rate.

She said it is a waste that HK$8.2 billion was spent on constructing the terminal only to have cruises berthing there for some 100 days a year.

And the terminal has shops, restaurants and parks and is readily capable of sharing the traffic and catering pressure brought by tourists, she added.

She proposed opening one berth for sightseeing ferries from the Kowloon City Ferry Pier, while leaving the remaining berths for cruises. "The terminal is not saturated. It can be developed into a self-contained area for tourists," Mo said.

She also urged the government to communicate with mainland authorities to restrict the number of tours.

According to Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah, the terminal only has ship calling for less than half of the days each year.

Community groups and residents have complained that tour buses have caused rampant double-parking problems in their neighborhoods.

Nette Tsang Wing-tung, from the community group Kowloon Synergy, said some of the busiest streets have up to 10 buses dropping off or picking up tourists at the same time.

Some tour buses stop in front of a primary school and block its entrance, forcing school buses to drop off and pick up students in the middle of a busy road, Tsang said.

She said fining bus drivers for illegal parking will not help to alleviate the traffic jam because drivers will then only drive around until it is time to pick up the passengers.

cindymt.wan@singtaonewscorp.com

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