Date
20 November 2018
Lawmaker Yiu Si-wing (inset) says many mainland tour groups that entered Hong Kong via the new sea bridge were neither hosted by Hong Kong travel agencies nor registered with the Travel Industry Council after arrival. Photos: TVB News/screenshot, RTHK
Lawmaker Yiu Si-wing (inset) says many mainland tour groups that entered Hong Kong via the new sea bridge were neither hosted by Hong Kong travel agencies nor registered with the Travel Industry Council after arrival. Photos: TVB News/screenshot, RTHK

Govt urged to combat ‘illegal’ China tour groups via sea bridge

With mainland tour groups increasingly using the newly-opened Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) to travel to Hong Kong, tourism industry representatives are warning that some of the Chinese travel operators are not complying with the Hong Kong rules.

Accusing such operators of effectively providing an illegal service, a Hong Kong industry representative is calling on local authorities to combat and deter those activities.

Yiu Si-wing, a lawmaker who represents the tourism functional constituency in the Legislative Council, said on Monday that quite a number of inbound mainland tourist groups entering Hong Kong via the mega bridge were arranged directly by travel agencies in the mainland.

Such groups were neither hosted by Hong Kong travel agencies nor registered with the Travel Industry Council after arrival, according to Yiu.

As tour leaders of those groups also acted as guides when in Hong Kong, they can be deemed as unauthorized workers, the lawmaker added. 

Given those situations, Yiu urged the Immigration Department to step up efforts to combat suspected illegal acts in relation to the inbound tourist groups, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

In addition, Yiu urged the Tourism Commission to better coordinate with China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism to strengthen reporting as well as to remind travel agencies in the mainland to abide by Hong Kong regulations.

In response, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah, who is in Shanghai for an official visit, told media that his bureau has raised the issue with the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office in Guangdong province.

He added that the Tourism Commission and Hong Kong travel agencies have also reiterated to mainland travel agencies that tour groups arranged by them to visit Hong Kong must be hosted by their Hong Kong counterparts.

In other issues, a mainland tourist influx via the HZMB seems to be pushing residents in Tung Chung over the edge, with the locals saying the visitors are causing serious disturbance in the area.

Data from the Transport Department showed a total of 102,919 people crossed the Hong Kong border of the mega bridge on Sunday, breaking the 100,000 mark for the first time since its launch on Oct. 24 and representing an increase of 30 percent from the same day a week ago.

Jason Wong Chun-tat, who chairs the Travel Industry Council, told a radio program on Monday that the inbound mainland visitors via the bridge did not have itineraries.

As many of them leave Hong Kong the same day as their arrival, most of the visitors were seen staying only in Tung Chung during their trip.

In an attempt to ease Tung Chung residents’ complaints, Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan told media that the government will try to do whatever it can to relieve their stress in relation to the influx of tourists.

The government is highly concerned about the complaints that the visitors are affecting the daily life of Tung Chung residents, the official said.

A member of localist group Tung Chung Future warned that if the government cannot effectively improve or face up to the situation by next week, it will launch a “Reclaim Tung Chung” protest campaign, similar to the “Reclaim Shueng Shui” move set off in 2015 against the so-called parallel-goods traders from the mainland.

The campaign would be peaceful, he said.

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TL/JC/RC

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