Tours crush eases slightly
Crowds and traffic issues in To Kwa Wan caused by mainland tour groups saw improvements in handling after new measures took effect yesterday, but some tourists said they still did not have enough time for lunch, despite authorities setting a minimum 30-minute meal time.
Travel industry authority personnel and dozens of traffic and patrol police were seen near Sung On Street yesterday after the authority implemented measures to allow tour members least 30 minutes to enjoy their meals, requiring tour groups to reserve tables in advance, and having restaurants help with crowd control.
The executive director of the Hong Kong Tourism Association, Timothy Chui Ting-pong, said most tour members were able to enter a restaurant on arrival and the restaurants maintained communication with tour guides.
"There's a significant difference compared to the situation before the booking system was implemented," he said.
But Chui added that restaurants may be understaffed as its employees were deployed outside to direct the tourists through entrances and maintain order. "This might have slowed down the process of getting seated," he said.
Zhang, who came from Chongqing on a nine-day trip for HK$2,000, said she wasn't full from her lunch as she only had 15 minutes to finish the meal.
At a Kowloon City council meeting, To Kwa Wan North district councilor Starry Lee Wai-king said low-cost mainland tours should not have unfettered access to Hong Kong, as they are not particularly beneficial to local economic growth, and may even give tourists a bad impression of Hong Kong.
"The authorities must figure out how many low-cost tours are active and impose restrictions. If something isn't done about this soon, I fear the situation will only get worse over the Labor Day weekend," she said.
A district councilor and Kowloon Central Legislative Council member, Kitson Yang Wing-kit, said it was not fair that restaurant employees were tasked with maintaining order and cleaning up after tour members outside the restaurant.
Cheung, a To Kwa Wan resident, said: "All of those red-capped tourists are blocking the street. I have to walk off the pavement onto the road if I want to get somewhere."