Should foreigners pay more than locals? Ko Waiyin, a columnist at Apple Daily, has stirred debate on the issue with her article, “Thanks for discriminating against me”.
In her article published on Thursday, Ko recalled meeting an old lady from Hong Kong at a Taipei train station. The lady asked the station staff if there is any concession fare for the elderly.
The answer was firm but polite: “Yes but only if you are Taiwanese.”
Ko said such “discrimination” reflects Taiwan’s policy of favoring the locals, and that is a great practice. Many bloggers and netizens agree.
In most parts of the world, favoring the locals is the norm.
Foreigners have to pay higher bus fares in Cambodia and Indonesia. National parks and monuments in South Africa and India charge foreign visitors more.
In Australia, the Museum of Old and New Arts located in Tasmania is free for locals but charge foreigners an entrance fee of A$20 (US$18.56).
But in Hong Kong, things are different, sometimes even the other way round.
Take swimming pools, where locals and non-locals are treated equally.
Since a Southern Metropolis Daily report last month about the city’s swimming pools being safer and cheaper than those in mainland China, mainlanders have been flooding these facilities throughout the summer vacation. Some lifeguards carried out a strike earlier this month against the heavy workload.
To solve the overcrowding problem, experts suggested implementing a policy of higher charges for non-residents. At the end of the day, it is the locals who pay taxes to build and maintain these pools, so they should have the right to enjoy them first.
But the Hong Kong Trade Development Council has a different logic.
The council, which organized the Hong Kong Book Fair in July, charged Hongkongers HK$25 per ticket but non-locals only HK$10.
Some called it unreasonable but the HKTDC might believe the cheaper entrance fee will draw in more foreign visitors and help boost tourism, an important source of income for Hong Kong.
Is price discrimination fair or not? An easy conclusion may not be possible.
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