Individual visitors fuel ire at crowds

Local | Sophie Hui 5 Mar 2019

Sixty percent of citizens believe that mainland tourists visiting Hong Kong through the Individual Visit Scheme has led to the city becoming overcrowded, a survey revealed.

This comes as the Hong Kong Tourism Board said a record-breaking 65.1 million people visited the SAR last year, an increase of 11.4 percent from the previous year.

Among them, 51 million were mainland tourists, a rise of 14.8 percent from 2017.

The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, both of which opened to the public in the fourth quarter last year, have played an instrumental role in drawing in a large number of mainland visitors.

The tourism board forecasts that the number of mainland visitors this year will increase by 2.1 percent to 52.1 million.

The Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong interviewed 709 adults via phone between February 15 and 21, and got their views on the Individual Visit Scheme.

A total of 60.1 percent felt that Hong Kong "has no more capacity to receive the existing volume of mainland visitors under the scheme," while only 13.5 percent of respondents had an opposing view.

More than half of respondents -- 52.6 percent -- said individual mainland tourists cause inconvenience to the communities they live in.

However, 45.7 percent said they didn't have such a problem.

Nearly 60 percent of respondents admitted that they boosted local consumption, while 42.3 percent agreed that individual tourists can help promote employment.

But, citizens have diverse perspectives on whether mainland visitors have brought more benefits or disadvantages to Hong Kong.

However, 35.4 percent of the respondents said their impression of mainland visitors took a turn for the worse after the Individual Visit Scheme was introduced in 2003, while 45.1 percent said they maintained the same perception.

About 45 percent hope the scheme will remain unchanged, while 43.3 percent believe it should be tightened. Only eight percent said the scheme should be expanded.

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