Acting Chief Executive Teresa Cheng has said that the police will investigate the issue of mainland tour agents leading visitors to the city via the new mega-bridge, without an accompanying Hong Kong liaison.
More than 100,000 people used the newly opened Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge last Sunday. With little time allotted for a visit to the city, many tourists remained in the nearby area of Tung Chung, sparking complaints from residents about overcrowding.
The Travel Industry Council said hundreds of mainland tourists came to the city as part of tour groups that did not liaise with their local counterparts. Hong Kong travel agents are usually required to guide such groups as they enter the territory. The tourism sector lawmaker has urged the police to arrest illegal mainland tour guides.
Many of the tour groups, led by mainland tour agents, stayed in Tung Chung for several hours before taking public transport back to the bridge. Long queues formed at malls and bus stations.
Asked by reporters about the issue on Tuesday, Cheng said she had written to the Guangdong authorities and the local police are also following-up.
“We hope [Guangdong] can attach more importance to the issue, to do some more work at the source,” she said ahead of a weekly Executive Council meeting.
Cheng is acting as Chief Executive Carrie Lam, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung and Financial Secretary Paul Chan are on official trips.
Historically, there has been only one case of an unregulated tour group being fined.
“[If] communication was clearer and better at the source, the diversion of traffic could be carried out better… we can stop tour groups without a local liaison from coming,” she said.
Cheng said the Transport Department will work on diverting tourists to visit other places in Hong Kong, and said she will work on better transport arrangements for Tung Chung residents.
Tourism sector lawmaker Yiu Si-wing told an RTHK radio programme that it was illegal for mainland tour agents to operate in Hong Kong.
He said he has asked the Security Bureau to instruct the police to enforce the law: “We cannot just take this as an individual incident.”
He urged the police to arrest illegal tour guides: “If we detain the tour guide, then no-one will be managing the tour group… once we do this, tourism agencies will be shocked [and stop arranging tours].”