John Lee Admits ‘Some Chaos’ With Put up-Pandemic Tourism Surge, Says Tour Teams Want Higher Planning

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Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu responded to recent reports of tourist-related traffic congestion and crowding in certain parts of the city. Speaking to the media on Tuesday morning before the weekly ExCo meeting, Lee said, “There is some confusion or there is some chaos… so yes, there is a need to plan group tours better.”

The CE added, “The relevant bureaus and departments, including the Culture, Sports and Tourism bureau and the relevant regulators of travel agents will work very hard so that they could address the various issues… such as traffic congestion.”

Lee’s comments come after reports of inconvenience to residents in districts such as To Kwa Wan and Hung Hom due to tourists crowding in these areas. During a LegCo meeting on Monday, the Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism, Kevin Yeung, said, “There are many solutions possible, say for example, setting limits [on] the number of tour groups to a certain place and encouraging more diverse itineraries and scheduling them at different times. This is what we are going to do.”

In addition, Annie Fonda, the executive director of the Travel Industry Authority, said that the current situation is not ideal and that authorities are working on ways to improve the situation. Speaking on an RTHK programme on Tuesday, Fonda suggested that tour groups can wait in their buses instead of queueing on the streets while waiting to get tables at restaurants or that travel agencies can suggest alternative districts to visit in the city.

In January this year, Hong Kong resumed quarantine-free cross-border travel with Mainland China, and scrapped vaccination requirements for tourists the following month. In February, 1.42 million visitors entered the city, which is the first time the figure crossed the 1-million mark since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in the SAR in February 2020.

Header image credits: Rich Legg via Canva

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