HongKong

In pictures: Hong Kong travel watchdog regulates budget travel amid surge in mainland Chinese tourists


Hong Kong’s tourism regulator announced new crowd control measures after a surge in mainland Chinese tourists on cheap tours in To Kwa Wan and Hung Hom sparked complaints from residents.

Mainland Chinese tourists in Hong Kong on March 29, 2023. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

Under the revised arrangements, which will go into effect on Thursday, travel agents will be required to make advance reservations for travelers, guarantee at least 30 minutes of meal time per trip and communicate with restaurant representatives about tour bus arrangements.

Mainland Chinese tourists in Hong Kong on March 29, 2023. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

Since Hong Kong fully opened its border with mainland China on February 6, hundreds of mainland tourists have been seen on the streets of To Kwa Wan and Hung Hom – where most of the low-cost tourism-targeted restaurants and tourist shops are located .

Mainland Chinese tourists in Hong Kong on March 29, 2023. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

Mainland Chinese tourists, many wearing matching hats or T-shirts, were seen queuing for buses and queuing outside restaurants.

Local residents have reported difficulties commuting, while concerns have been raised about general hygiene.

Mainland Chinese tourists in Hong Kong on March 29, 2023. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

The Tourism Industry Authority (TIA) — the city’s official regulator of tour operators and tour guides — said in a statement Tuesday that it had met with leading representatives of tour operators and restaurant owners in affected areas.

It added that after several inspections, the situation had improved considerably.

Mainland Chinese tourists in Hong Kong on March 29, 2023. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

TIA stated that it will continue to closely monitor the development of the situation and has zero tolerance for behaviors that damage the reputation of Hong Kong’s tourism industry. “(I) If the issues continue, TIA may take further regulatory action,” the statement read.

Mainland Chinese tourists in Hong Kong on March 29, 2023. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

Pan Guohua, a member of the Kowloon City District Council, said on a radio program on Wednesday that the problem of overcrowding existed before the epidemic, but teahouses and restaurants in the district refused to accept reservations.

Mainland Chinese tourists in Hong Kong on March 29, 2023. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

“I’m not sure why, but it could be that owners are reluctant to set capacity limits for their restaurants,” Pun said, adding that the new arrangement might alleviate the problem.

Mainland Chinese tourists in Hong Kong on March 29, 2023. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

According to data released by the Hong Kong Tourism Board, more than 1.1 million mainland Chinese tourists visited Hong Kong in February.

This accounted for more than 75% of total tourist arrivals last month.

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