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Three weeks into the replacement of the “multiple-entry” arrangement with the “one-trip-per-week” policy under the Individual Visit Endorsements (IVE) for Shenzhen permanent residents, a group of Legislative Councilors from the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong (BPA) comprising Mr Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, BPA Chairman; Mr Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, BPA Vice Chairman; Mr Christopher Cheung Wah-fung, BPA Vice Chairman; and Dr Lo Wai-kwok, BPA Vice Chairman, yesterday (April 19) met with Mr Gregory So Kam-leung, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development to exchange views on the consequences to the retail and travel trades as a result of the policy change. They were joined by tourism industry representatives who included Mr Michael Wu Siu-ying, Chairman of the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong; Mr Jason Wong Chun-tat, Deputy Chairman of the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong; and Mr Paul Leung Yiu-lam, Managing Director of the Holiday World Tours Ltd.
During the meeting, the tourism representatives noted that despite such positive developments as a strong growth in the number of outbound tourists due to weaker exchange rates and a steady volume of visitor arrivals, there has however been a 6-8% year-on-year decline in hotel occupancy rates according to statistics for April. The number of business travelers has also experienced a drop over the same period. In response, some hotels have cut room rates in an effort to drum up business, which has led to a fall in overall revenues by 10%. Furthermore, retailers have been adversely affected by a perceptible reduction in per capita spending by tourists.
They also pointed out that Mainland tourists have been discouraged from visiting as a result of the introduction of the “one-trip-per-week” policy, which appeared to imply that Chinese visitors were not welcomed in Hong Kong. BPA and tourism representatives urged the government to take active measures to address any possible fall-out from the “one-trip-per-week” policy, step up promotions aimed at Mainland tourists, and restore Hong Kong’s image as a “Hospitable Destination”. There was consensus that both government and the trade should work closely together to develop multi-prong strategies to sustain the healthy development of Hong Kong’s tourism industry over the longer term.
Miss Cathy Chu Man-ling, Commissioner for Tourism; Mrs Miranda Yim Ng Chi-kwan, Assistant Commissioner for Tourism; Dr Bernard Chan Pak-li, Political Assistant to the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development; were also present at the meeting.