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Changes to China's IVS scheme suspended indefinitely
Prudence Lui, Hong Kong, September 11, 2012

CONCERNS over Hong Kong's limited infrastructure for an influx of 4.1 million Shenzhen visitors have forced the Hong Kong and Chinese governments to put changes in the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) on hold indefinitely.


Under a recalibrated IVS, Shenzhen was to begin offering its residents multiple-entry visas to Hong Kong on September 21. (See TTG Asia e-daily, September 3, 2012


Gray Line Tours managing director, Michael Wu, said the move would not dampen travel demand to Hong Kong as the scheme was still in operation, although visas issued would only allow one to two entries to the city per application.


“It may not be convenient but they (Chinese visitors) will still come. I agree with the government’s decision, given the immense pressure that would be imposed on our immigration staff. The advantage of the current IVS is visitors may stay longer and spend more, instead of taking daytrips under the multiple-entry visa.”


Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) chairman, James Tien, believes that the move can help ensure that visitors to Hong Kong receive proper service and a satisfactory experience.


“HKTB welcomes travellers from mainland China and the rest of the world. Nevertheless, it is important to take into account the concerns of Hong Kong society even as we welcome them. As such, we believe the decision by the government will ensure that Hong Kong’s visitor capacity and its tourism facilities can accommodate visitors’ needs.”


China Travel Services (Hong Kong) assistant general manager, Ng Hi-on, sees the need for HKTB to grow its pie in the long run.


“Hong Kong cannot just rely on China. It needs a balanced growth in European and American markets too. These longhaul markets do not always perform well but we should not put all our eggs in one basket,” he said.

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