The Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of China’s State Council has asked authorities in both Hong Kong and Shenzhen to study the current practice of multi-entry visas offered to Shenzhen residents who travel solo to Hong Kong rather than with tour groups, Singtao Daily reported Friday, citing unidentified sources.
The study could possibly pave way to restrictions on such visas, the report said.
Authorities on both sides will examine the data on visitors holding multi-entry visas, including how many times they actually use the visas, the background of the travelers and their purposes of visit in order to gain a better understanding of their behavior patterns.
After the study is completed, multiple-entry visa holders could be restricted to a maximum of seven, eight or ten entries per visa should the research results show that most of such visa holders are only trying to smuggling goods back to the mainland, sources were quoted as saying.
The request of the Office came after Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s idea to slash the number of mainland visitors by 20 percent. Though Leung later claimed that the reduction was not a policy recommendation but “one of the discussed items” during a meeting of a top-level government advisory body, the news has caused a shock to firms in the travel and retail circles as they were worried that a cut in the visitor numbers would hurt their businesses.
Wong Ka-wo, chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants & Related Trades, believes a 20 percent cut in the visitor quota would not affect the overall sales of the city’s restaurants too much. But those focusing on business from solo mainland visitors could be forced to lay off some staff, he warned.
Authorities plans to tweak the policy on mainland visitors as there is growing discontent among Hong Kong residents against the flood of mainland visitors. Locals blame the visitors for problems such as congestion in shopping districts, traffic snarls, shortage of some essential items and a rise in prices.
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