Hong Kong wants to cap its multiple visa scheme for mainland tourists under a preliminary agreement with mainland China, Ming Pao Daily reported Friday.
The policy will limit visitors from the mainland to 52 visits a year per visa application from the present practice of unlimited multiple entry.
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So and representatives from the mainland’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office have been in talks on a range of proposals to regulate the flow of mainlanders into Hong Kong, the report said, citing unnamed sources.
Legislator Michael Tien said the cap is still too high compared with his own proposal for 15 visits per year. Nevertheless, he said it’s a good start.
Yiu Si-wing, who represents the tourism functional constituency in the Legislative Council, and legislator Vincent Fang of the wholesale and retail sector, said they doubt if the mechanism will work and warned it could hurt the domestic retail industry.
An official announcement is not expected anytime soon, government sources were quoted as saying.
About 1.5 million tourists from Shenzhen visited Hong Kong 12.15 million times last year on multiple visit visa, or eight per tourist, according to the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau.
In the five months to March this year, 1,700 Shenzhen tourists visited Hong Kong twice a day on a daily basis and 22 people three times a day, the report said.
If the yearly cap of 52 visits is implemented, the number of visits by those 1,700 people would be cut 1.15 million times.
Meanwhile, Zhang Xiaoming, director of the Liaison Office toured Hong Kong’s northern districts to asses the impact of parallel trading on their residents.
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