Date
23 July 2017
Lai Chi Wo village had 200 Hakka-style houses at its peak until residents began moving overseas 20 to 30 years ago. Photos: Facebook/Lai Chi Wo Village
Lai Chi Wo village had 200 Hakka-style houses at its peak until residents began moving overseas 20 to 30 years ago. Photos: Facebook/Lai Chi Wo Village

Heung Yee Kuk eyes rural vacation homes to boost tourism

The Heung Yee Kuk wants to build vacation homes in the New Territories to invigorate rural tourism.

The plan by the powerful rural council calls for empty houses in remote areas to be spruced up, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Chairman Kenneth Lau said Secretary for Development Paul Chan and Home Affairs chief Lau kong-wah are supportive of the idea.

Lai Chi Wo village near Sha Tau Kok was suggested for the project after earlier discussions over Sai Kung’s Big Wave Bay ended in a deadlock.

The plan comes three years after a village delegation visited Taiwan to study its rural vacation home program. 

But the proposal faces steep hurdles.

Just 10 percent of Lai Chi Wo residents remain after the population began moving overseas in the past 20 to 30 years, making it difficult to get their consent.

Village officials have talked to some of the homeowners who have left Hong Kong.

Also, there are concerns the houses need extensive work to comply with fire safety regulations before they can be licensed under the Hotel and Guesthouse Accommodation Ordinance.

Home Affairs officials who visited the houses in March found these were mostly made of wood.

However, the Heung Yee Kuk said the government might be flexible in its fire safety requirements.

Transport could be another problem.

Lai Chi Wo village is accessible by ferry from the MTR’s University Station in Ma Liu Shui but the trip takes 90 minutes. 

The village had more than 200 Hakka-style houses during its prime.

Half remain and are well maintained despite being vacant.

Estimates put renovation costs at HK$200,000 (US$25,790) for each house.

[Chinese version 中文版]

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