The Central Government today (April 13) announced the replacement of the “multiple-entry” Individual Visit Endorsements (IVE) for Shenzhen permanent residents with the “one trip per week” IVE effective immediately. The Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong (BPA) supports the Central Government’s effort to tackle the nuisance caused by parallel trading activities. However, we would also urge the SAR Government to lobby the Central Government on expanding the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) beyond the existing 49 cities so as to reduce the revised IVE’s impact on the tourism, retail, food and beverage industries, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), as well as workers in the affected industries.
Mr Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, BPA Chairman, stressed that the government and the Hong Kong Tourism Board should take the opportunity to bolster promotional campaigns and enhance tourism capacity to rebuild Hong Kong’s image as a visitor-friendly city.
There have been reports that some parallel trading groups were offering lucrative payments to recruit local residents as parallel traders. The BPA is concerned that this could induce more local people to take up parallel trading and urges the relevant authorities to enforce the law to the greatest extent possible. Mr Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, BPA Vice Chairman, cautioned cross-border travelers especially those with excess luggage against breaking laws in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, and called on the customs authorities in both cities to strengthen bilateral cooperation in such areas as monitoring, inspection, and law enforcement.
The BPA regards a targeted approach to be of paramount importance and suggests that the introduction of any regulatory action should be preceded by a clear delineation of visitor profiles so that distinctions can be made between parallel traders, and bona fide tourists such as individual and multiple entry travelers. The BPA also cautions on the need to ensure that the latest policy shift would not impinge on the tourism and retailing industries, as well as SMEs. Mr Jeffrey Lam said there were business concerns that the new policy could lead to widespread closures and retrenchments with workers in the tourism and retail industries being the worst hit. The BPA urges the Government to take proper steps to provide support and assistance should that occur.
The BPA calls on the Hong Kong Tourism Board to take the initiative of working closely with retailers, caterers, and operators of shopping mall and major tourist attractions as soon as possible to stimulate consumption through such promotional offers as sales discounts for incoming visitors and the local populace.
Mr Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, BPA Chairman, said the Government should conduct regular reviews of the policy’s impact on the overall economy should the “one trip per week” arrangement succeed in fulfilling its objective of combating parallel trading. He pointed out that Hong Kong should speed up plans for the construction of a border shopping centre and to consider developing new tourist attractions as these would have the benefits of enhancing tourists’ shopping experience and in enlarging retail market opportunities. He further urged the Government to lobby the Central Government on expanding IVS coverage to other Mainland cities further afield so as to increase overnight visitors and attract more high-spending tourists from the Mainland and overseas.