Beijing: China plans to let more individual travellers visit Hong Kong as the two governments seek stronger economic and trade ties.
The number of regions where individuals are allowed to visit the city will be expanded steadily in the near future, China National Tourism Administration official Ren Jiayan said yesterday, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. The organisation has consulted with ministries on whether Hong Kong’s hotels and customs officials can cope with more visitors, Xinhua reported Ren as saying.
The Hong Kong government said yesterday it has reached an agreement with China to let travel agents in the mainland operate group tours to Hong Kong and Macau for those with residency in the region. The government will also allow one China and Hong Kong joint venture travel agent to operate a pilot programme offering Chinese residents group tours to places outside Hong Kong and Macau, excluding Taiwan, it said.
Rise in retail sales
Chinese visits to the city rose 21 per cent in the first five months this year, supporting sales at jewellery and watch makers, including Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Co. and Luk Fook Holdings International Ltd. Retail sales in Hong Kong rose 11 per cent from a year earlier in April, even as Chinese visitors cut spending amidst the nation’s slowing economy.
While the rising number of mainland Chinese travelling to the city has brought economic benefits, it also spurred tension between the city’s residents amid surging property prices from an influx of investments and a shortage of hospital beds as Chinese mothers enter the city to give birth.
The announcements came as Chinese President Hu Jintao began a three-day visit to the city yesterday to mark the 15th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule.