HK universities become new attractions for mainland tourists

February 01, 2019 16:15
The CUHK students' union posted a statement on its Facebook page on Wednesday to complain about the “unauthorized” visits by mainland tourists to the campus. Photo: HKEJ/CUHK students' union

"Ladies and gentlemen, on your left is the faculty of medicine where ground-breaking research is being conducted... Over there is the university canteen, where we will stop in a little while for fantastic meals and snacks at very affordable prices..."

That's probably how a tour guide would do her job as she takes mainland tourists on a trip around a university campus in Hong Kong.

A university is devoted to the pursuit of learning, but some local and mainland travel agencies have decided that it could also serve as a tourist attraction and consequently organized tours around such places in the city.

Institutions covered by the latest tours include the University of Hong Kong (HKU), the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.

Not surprisingly, students in these universities were not amused by the enterprising spirit of these travel agencies as hordes of tourists swooped down on their campuses, breaking the tranquility of the environment.

The CUHK students' union complained that the canteens are now often packed with noisy tourists, displacing the students. They also crowd shuttle buses, which are supposedly for the exclusive use of students and teachers.

The union posted a statement on its Facebook page on Wednesday to complain about recent tourist activities on the campus. It said the “disturbing activities have negative effects on [the students'] daily school life and operation.”

“[The] campus is not a tourist spot, but a place where [they] perform research, study and live,” the union stressed.

Responding to the complaint, the CUHK spokesperson said the university did not receive any application for tours of the campus from external parties, according to the union's statement.

The statement noted that tourist visits are “unauthorized” and that the university will promptly address the issue.

At HKU, a student said in a Facebook post that a number of students are now forced to eat off campus because the university canteens are always overcrowded with mainland tour groups.

In response to media inquiries, the CUHK said it has been aware of the situation and that it is enhancing measures to better manage the campus.

The university stressed that it has the right to disallow unregistered tour coaches to enter its campus, depending on the actual situation.

Data unveiled on Thursday by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) showed the number of mainland visitor arrivals topped 51 million in 2018, up 14.8  percent from the previous year.

The number of overnight mainland visitors arrivals exceeded 19.9 million,  up 7.4 percent from 2017.

HKTB attributed the rise to a surge in the number of mainland visitors in the last few months of 2018 after the opening of two major cross-border infrastructure projects, namely the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge,Apple Daily reported.

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