China will restrict permits to Shenzhen residents coming to Hong Kong amid rising tensions over visitor influx.
From Monday, mainland authorities will stop issuing multiple permits for Shenzhen residents and limit them to once-a-week visits, according to state news agency Xinhua.
The move was taken by Beijing at the request of the Hong Kong government, the report said, citing a source from the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office.
Beijing will continue to support the local tourism industry despite the cancellation of the multiple permit policy which was introduced in 2009 to help Hong Kong overcome the global financial crisis.
The number of Shenzhen visitors to Hong Kong is expected to fall by 30 percent as a result of the new policy, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported Monday.
However, its impact on the economy is expected to be minimal because visitors from Shenzhen account for a small proportion of tourist spending, according to some economists.
Also, it will be ineffective in curbing cross-border parallel trading by merchants with Hong Kong identity cards, they said.
Mainland parallel traders have been blamed for rising rents, overcrowding and traffic congestion in Hong Kong’s border districts, sparking protests by local residents.
Lau Nai-keung, a member of the Basic Law Committee, said the measures cannot stop Hong Kong residents from carrying out parallel trades.
Michael Tien Puk-sun, deputy chairman of the New People’s Party, said mainland parallel traders rarely stay in Hong Kong overnight, so their impact on tourism is limited.
Others including lawmaker Vincent Fang, National People’s Congress deputy Maria Tam and North District Parallel Imports Concern Group spokesman Leung Kim-shing said the measures will control the situation only to a certain extent.
Translation by Vey Wong
[Chinese version 中文版]
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