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Wednesday, April 6, 2016, 13:40

HK 'has no plans to expand visit scheme'


HK 'has no plans to expand visit scheme'
Mainland Chinese tourists walk from their tour bus to a beach in Hong Kong on Aug 5, 2014. (AFP PHOTO / Alex OGLE)
HONG KONG - Hong Kong's Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So Kam-leung said Wednesday the government has no intention of seeking to open up the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) to more mainland cities at the moment.

So made the remarks during a special session of the Legislative Council’s Finance Committee. He was asked by a lawmaker whether the government would work to extend the scheme to more mainland cities in light of the drop in visitors to Hong Kong – which came after multiple travel permits were limited to one visit per week.

According to the latest statistics released by the Hong Kong Tourism Board on Friday, a more than 20-percent drop in overall arrivals was recorded in February compared with the same period last year. There were almost one million fewer visitors from the mainland.

So said the government had granted an extra HK$220 million for the board to promote Hong Kong overseas in an attempt to lure more high-value overnight tourists. So stressed the government cared more about the quality, not the quantity, of tourist arrivals.

Introducing the once-a-week travel permit limit was done to target parallel traders and balance tourism numbers in order to alleviate the pressures these had brought for the public, according to So.

He said events in the city had already affected mainland tourists’ desire to visit Hong Kong. Thus the government had no plans to lobby for the expansion of the IVS to more cities on the mainland.

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