Hong Kong business tycoon welcomes individual inland travelers

Hong Kong (HK) business magnate and legislative council member stressed the importance of Chinese inland travelers on Thursday; days after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said that the Individual Visit Scheme for tourists from the inland is to be tightened up.

“Hong Kong’s biggest advantage is having inland as our supporter. If we don’t have the Individual Visit Scheme, I believe the stock would fall for over 1,000 point,” said Li Ka-Shing, a Hong Kong business magnate, investor, and philanthropist on his company’s annual result press conference.

The Individual Visit Scheme began in July 2003, allowed travelers from some cities in the Chinese inland areas to visit Hong Kong and Macao on an individual basis. Prior to the Scheme, inland residents could only visit Hong Kong and Macao with business visas or in group tours.

“People from Shenzhen made about 15 million trips to Hong Kong in 2014 and those from other inland provinces and cities made about 19 million trips. The 19 million trips brought significant help to Hong Kong’s economy and tourism,” said Yiu Si-wing , director of China Travel Service and member of Legislative Council of Hong Kong.

“The tourists, who spent about 8,000 yuan per person in a trip, had a far reaching impact on Hong Kong. If Hong Kong opens to more cities in the inland, one million more trips in maximum will be made in a year, which will be a great boost to Hong Kong’s overall consumption, tourism and transportation,” said Yiu.

Speaking of an Executive Council meeting Tuesday morning, Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said he has been suggesting the central government to tighten the scheme’s present limit of 49 cities as Hong Kong’s receiving capacity is limited.