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Saturday, Jun 03, 2023

Three fixes for tour-crowds row

Three fixes for tour-crowds row

Tourism and catering sectors have to implement three new crowd-control measures from today to minimize the impact of surging mainland visitors, especially in areas like To Kwa Wan and Hung Hom.
At a meeting yesterday with industry representatives, the Travel Industry Authority proposed three measures, including allowing tour members at least 30 minutes for meals, requiring tour groups to reserve tables in advance, and having restaurants help with crowd control.

Meanwhile, more police officers were deployed on Sung On Street in To Kwa Wan for crowd control.

Kowloon West regional commander Rupert Dover, assigned to anti-fugitive protests in 2019, was seen monitoring developments outside Ka Lok Hin Kitchen, a popular eatery for mainland tours.

One tourist, Zheng, from Kunming, said he understood the need to limit meal times because “there are too many people, and they can’t occupy seats for too long.”

Meanwhile, Kowloon City district councilor Pun Kwok-wah said he does not have high hopes for the new measures, saying the issue had been on going for over 10 years and that some restaurants were unwilling to accept reservations.

“Back in the day, there used to be six or seven restaurants that took reservations from tour groups, but there are only two left now. They can’t take the congestion, noise and hygiene issues from mainland tours,” he said.

Travel Industry Council chairwoman Gianna Hsu Wong Mei-lun said she cannot see why a cap should be imposed on the number of tours, adding that the market will “naturally adjust to demand.”

Hong Kong Tourism Association executive director Timothy Chui Ting-pong said: “I expect the situation to improve in two days, with the number of tourists at restaurants decreasing by a third.”

Chui said that it is “unacceptable” that mainland tourists have had to eat on the street, adding that it would take time for restaurants to open up to mainland tours.

He quoted the police as saying that 20 tour bus parking spots have been reserved for a discounted price of HK$6 per half an-hour.

Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades Simon president Wong Ka-wo agreed that setting limited meal time would improve the situation.

Wong said eateries are only taking a small profit by charging HK$40 to HK$60 per head.

“The restaurants will see a drop in business,” he said, “so they’ll have to raise their prices by around 20 percent.”
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