Hong Kong’s tourism watchdog said on Tuesday that the trade is working hard to minimise the impact of mainland tour groups on residents in Kowloon City, amid complaints that a recent surge in visitors had affected their daily lives.
Tour groups have returned to the SAR after quarantine-free travel was resumed with the mainland, and residents in Hung Hom and To Kwa Wan have complained about crowded streets, noise and litter left by visitors joining so-called “budget tours”.
Speaking on an RTHK programme, the executive director of the Travel Industry Authority, Annie Fonda, said the current situation isn’t ideal, and stakeholders are working to find a solution.
“I hope people will understand that many stakeholders are working hard to try and make improvements. But after all, the border has just reopened and there’s a surge of visitors. I think we should give stakeholders some time to introduce measures,” she said.
For example, she said tour groups can wait on their coaches instead of on the streets before they can enter restaurants for meals, and travel agencies can consider diverting some groups to other districts in Hong Kong.
In response to media reports that some visitors had to stand on the streets to have their lunch boxes or cup noodles, Fonda quoted the travel agency involved as saying that the tourists were too hungry while waiting for seats at a restaurant, and requested for takeaway instead.
She said the agency admitted that it wasn’t a decent scene and promised never to make similar arrangements in future.
When asked if budget tours should be scrapped, Fonda said Hong Kong should welcome all visitors regardless of how much they are going to spend here.
However, she pointed out that tour guides have the responsibility to make sure visitors do not make too much noise, leave behind rubbish or obstruct the streets.
Speaking on the same programme, DAB lawmaker Kitson Yang said while diverting visitors away from Kowloon City can help, the ultimate solution is to limit the number of tour groups allowed in the city.