INFO · Search
· Chinese version · Subscribe



Chief executive demands better control towards Hong Kong budget tourism from mainland

  • By: Junzhe JIANG、Xiya RUIEdited by: Ming Min AW YONG
  • 2023-03-30

Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu has asked related officials to enhance the control of the crowds to solve the complaints from Hong Kong residents over the low-cost mainland visitors gathering on the street and in restaurants. Lee said on Tuesday that the city's tourism is recovering and has reached the first stage of returning to normality, hence making it necessary to manage the capacity. In the press conference, Lee said he had asked the related authorities, including Culture, Sport and Tourism Bureau as well as Hong Kong Tourism Authority to manage the tourism’s impact on transportation. After the three-year shutdown, many cross-border tourists have returned to the city, leading to crowding in Kowloon City, To Kwa Wan, Hung Hom and more. According to the Hong Kong Tourism Board, the number of tourists from the mainland increased to 280,525 in January, 470.8% more than the same period in 2022. Hong Kong Express announced that they would operate 400 more flights every week to cope with rising levels of flights to Hong Kong.  Cheng Xinyi, a customer manager from Donghai travel agency, said they have four to five tour groups to Hong Kong every day, and Hong Kong is the best choice for tourists with a lower budget. The tourists are usually guided by their tour conductors and travel among the districts for shopping. This caused complaints about noise, hygiene issues, and transportation congestion spark. “There are many mainland tour groups eating in my restaurant,” said Maa Hoi-ying, the owner of a local restaurant in To Kwa Wan. “I usually accept 50 customers at the same time, but I can only keep 10 to 15 seats for my neighbourhoods,” she said. Maa said although there are some complaints about the tour groups, she’s happy with them as she can earn more money. …


MTR new fares tie to property profits and an one-off 1.2% fare cut announced

  • By: Xiya RUIEdited by: Tsz Ying CHEUNG、Ming Min AW YONG
  • 2023-03-25

The Hong Kong government has approved a one-off fare reduction of  1.2%  points in MTR fares this Tuesday, which is the biggest reduction in recent years, as MTR decided to maintain stable fare prices for the public, according to Lam Sai-hung, Hong Kong Transport Secretary, at a press conference on March 21. The MTR’s Fare Adjustment Mechanism is a system regulating the fare increment of public utilities, including the Mass Transit Railway Corporation Limited (MTR). Meanwhile, the new mechanism will be directly tied to the MTR property development profits. Starting from this June, the more profit the MTR makes, the smaller the fare increases.   Lam stated that the new calculation formula of fares has a long-term effect. A decline of 1.85% for fares is expected in 2024.  “The fare should have been adjusted long ago. My monthly subway transportation fee is close to HK$400, such a big cost!” said Wong Youkum, 29, a Central agency employee.  Specifically, if the MTR property profit reaches 5 billion to 10 billion Hong Kong dollars, the special deduction will be increased by 0.1 percentage points. If the property profit exceeds 10 billion yuan, the special deduction will be increased by 0.1 percentage points, and the special deduction will be up to 0.8%. Jacob Kam Chak-pui, the CEO of MTR Corp, claimed that it is necessary for the corporation to have stable revenue sources as the railway network reaches a mature stage and the expenses of keeping, modernizing, and replacing railway assets have been steadily rising. “I saw some news that the subway doors suddenly flew out and broke down,” said Wong. “There is no reason for the MTR to charge higher and higher fares when even the most basic safety issues are worrying.”  The MTR’s Fare Adjustment Mechanism has led to an over 31% …


Tolls for two Hong Kong cross-harbour tunnels will increase to HK$30 from August 2, charges for Western Tunnel will decrease to HK$60

  • By: Kei Tung LAMEdited by: Ming Min AW YONG
  • 2023-03-22

To alleviate long-standing traffic flow issues, the Hong Kong government proposed a new toll plan for three cross-harbour tunnels in two stages.  Chan Sai-hung, the Secretary for Transport and Logistics, said that under the first stage, starting from August 2, tolls for private cars using the Western Harbour Crossing will be lowered from HK$75 to HK$60. Also, the tolls for the Cross-Harbour Tunnel and the Eastern Harbour Crossing will be increased from HK$20 to HK$30 and from HK$25 to HK$30, respectively.  Taxi fares will be standardized at HK$25 per trip for all three tunnels to discourage empty taxis from concentrating on lower-priced return trips through the Cross-Harbour and Eastern Harbour Crossings. "The lower toll rate for the Western Harbour Tunnel would encourage me to use it more often," Chan, a private car driver, said. He said that the higher toll rates for the other tunnels could help distribute traffic evenly across all three tunnels. However, not all drivers are happy with the proposed changes. Sze, a private car driver and a frequent user of the Eastern Harbour Tunnel, said that the toll increase would add to his monthly expenses. "The new charges are just a disguised increase in fares," he said. Under the proposed second stage, which is expected to start latest by the end of this year, the government plans to implement different charging schemes for different time periods.  During "non-peak hours", 7 pm to 7.30 am,  from Monday to Saturday nights, the three tunnels will charge a flat rate of HK$20 for private cars. In the morning and evening "peak hours", the fee is HK$60 for the Western Harbour Tunnel and HK$40 for the Cross-Harbour and Eastern Harbour Crossings.  On Sundays and public holidays, private cars will be charged at a flat rate of HK$20 to HK$25, depending …


Hong Kong’s mask mandate lifted after almost three years

  • By: Tsz Yin HOEdited by: Ming Min AW YONG
  • 2023-03-01

Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu has announced scrapping the COVID-19 mask mandate starting today. The lift came into effect and Hongkongers and tourists are free to not wear masks on public transport, public indoor and outdoor areas and all scheduled premises, without fines. Hong Kong is believed to be the last place on the planet to end the mask-wearing mandate according to Lee. The mask mandate has lasted for 959 days. “In order to give people a very clear message that Hong Kong is resuming to normalcy, I think this is the right time to make this decision,” said Lee. The majority of people in the city are still wearing masks, especially in crowded areas such as public transport and commercial districts. “The demand for masks will still remain in the short run,” said Zita Cheung, a salesperson at a mask shop. She said that the business of her shop is significantly worse today, as very few customers visited. Currently, her shop is providing discounts for clearance sales and the shop is no longer restocking masks. However, mask-wearing is still required for entering venues regarded as high risk, according to Lee, including medical facilities, residential care and elderly homes. The government also suggests that people with weak immunity or chronic diseases should also wear a mask. Hong Kong has axed several other major controls in recent months, including mandatory quarantine for all arrivals, social distancing and vaccine requirements.


2023-24 Budget: Tourism industry calls for sufficient financial support to revitalise businesses

  • By: Man TSEEdited by: Bella Ding、Zimo ZHONG、Yuchen LI
  • 2023-02-24

Hong Kong is set to spend HK$350 million in organizing international events to attract tourists and offers fully guaranteed loans to revive tourism businesses.  The funds are primarily for promoting major tourism events, including the first-ever Hong Kong Pop Culture Festival and the Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said on Wednesday. The Hong Kong Tourism Board will spend another HK$200 million hosting more international meetings, incentive travels, conventions and exhibitions in the fields of finance, innovation and technology and medicine.  “Hong Kong has long been a world‑renowned events capital. Organisation of mega events, international conferences and exhibitions is especially crucial to drawing high value-added visitors,” Chan said.  This is the first Budget under the current-term government’s administration and after the resumption of quarantine-free travel with the Mainland and the international community. Hello Hong Kong campaign, launched on Feb. 2, will distribute 500,000 free air tickets and various cash vouchers to attract worldwide tourists.  Li Wai-pong, the operation manager of Hong Kong Travel Bus Company said that Hong Kong may not have the capacity to cater for visitors due to the labour and resource shortage in the tourism industry. “It will cost me around HK$90,000 each bus to repair the travel buses before operation,” said Li, “No transport operator could afford it without the financial help from the government, especially after a three-year business suspension.” The government announced the fully guaranteed loans worthing HK$2.7 billion for transport operators and travel agents on Wednesday, to support cross-boundary passenger transport and the tourism industry. Li said that this scheme’s effectiveness in supporting companies’ reopening is limited, since many companies can no longer afford new debts. The deficiency of manpower also exists among travel agencies.  “Only 10% of our leaving bus drivers are willing to come back to …


New round of consumption vouchers and increased football betting tax centre Budget 2023’s discussion

  • By: Nga Ying LAUEdited by: Le Ha NGUYEN、Mei Ching LEE
  • 2023-02-23

Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po released the budget speech for fiscal 2023-24, the first under the administration of Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu, on Wednesday with major public concern surrounding the fresh round of consumption vouchers and raising the football betting duty of Hong Kong Jockey Club amid the government’s deficit. Eligible citizens will receive HK$5,000 electronic consumption vouchers in two instalments, HK$3,000 in April and the remaining in the middle of the year. The amount of consumption vouchers is reduced from HK$10,000 due to an expected deficit of HK$140 billion in the financial year 2022-23, said Chan. “HK$5,000 is the best we can do,” said Chan when asked why the amount of this year’s consumption voucher was lower than last year's during a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.  Non-permanent residents who have come to Hong Kong through different admission schemes or to study will receive vouchers in half value, i.e. HK$2,500 in total. But whether inbound persons admitted recently to the Top Talent Pass Scheme with rich work experience and good academic qualifications are eligible to receive the vouchers is yet to be confirmed.  The budget also introduced the annual special football betting duty of HK$2.4 billion on the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) for 5 years starting from 2023/24, a cumulative total of HK$12 billion.  HKJC, a local non-profit unit providing horse racing, sporting and betting entertainment, slammed the policy in its latest statement, saying that “any permanent hike in betting duty rates will irreversibly create structural problems, which will only benefit illegal and offshore betting operators. The soccer betting duty was originally set at the rate of 50% of gross profit. According to HKJC, even the original rate is already the highest in the world. “Most importantly, such increase will adversely impact the Club’s ability …


Key takeaways of 2023-2024 Budget

  • By: Bella Ding、Yixin Gao、Kin Hou POONEdited by: Bella Ding
  • 2023-02-23

Paul Chan Mo-po, the Financial Secretary of Hong Kong, delivered the 2023-2024 Budget speech on Wednesday, announcing policies to support the economic recovery of the city while considering the financial affordability of the government. Here are the key takeaways you should know about this year’s budget plan.  


Prosecutors in Hong Kong’s largest national security trial allege unofficial political election could have harmed stability

  • By: Junzhe JIANG、Juncong SHUAIEdited by: KOO Chi Tung 顧知桐
  • 2023-02-08

Prosecutors on Tuesday said the unofficial 2020 Hong Kong pro-democracy legislative primaries diminished the city’s livelihood and stability in the trial of 47 defendants charged with subversion. Prosecutors listed the details of how defendants organized the Legco primaries in May 2020 and showed videos and posts in their opening remarks during the first two days of Hong Kong’s largest national security trial. The prosecutor said the 47 defendants were inspired by Hong Kong legal scholar Benny Tai Yiu-ting’s article outlining 10 steps of lam chau, a slogan used by democracy activists often translated as “burn together”,  to control the Legislative Council through the pre-election. Deputy director of public prosecutions Anthony Chau Tin-hang said the objective of the group was to snatch at least 35 out of 70 Legco seats and then vote down the government budgets, forcing Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to resign. Evidence shown in court on Tuesday included a statement signed by some of the accused from Kowloon East and New Territories West asking the then-Chief Executive to respond to the “five major demands”. Sixteen out 47 defendants pleaded not guilty on Monday. Of the defendants who have not pleaded guilty, six are on remand, four of whom have spent more than 700 days in custody. Former member of the Yuen Long District Council Ng Kin-wai and founder of local retail chain AbouThai Mike Lam King-nam plead guilty on Monday. Lam will testify for the prosecution with three other organizers of the primary.  In August, Security for Justice Paul Lam Ting-kwok ordered a non-jury trial because of “involvement of foreign factors” and “the protection of personal safety of jurors and their family members”.  From midnight, hundreds waited outside the court for public seats. Long queues caused the judiciary to extend the trial to the entire fourth floor and …


Five arrested after yelling in store linked to 47 democrats case

  • By: KOO Chi Tung 顧知桐Edited by: Yu Yin WONG
  • 2023-02-07

Police arrested five men over the past 48 hours for alleged disorderly behaviour at the Mong Kok branch of AboutThai grocery store. The chain store was founded by Mike Lam, one of 47 defendants currently being tried for a national security law case. The five, aged 14 to 28 years, were taken away by police on Monday night and early Tuesday morning in Kwai Chung, Kowloon City, and Hung Hom.  Staff at AbouThai told police that the five were yelling and harassing customers last Friday and two of them returned on Sunday. An online video shows one entering an AbouThai store and yelling Mike Lam King-nam’s name. “Lam King-nam, come out! Where are you, betrayer?”, the man in the video said.  Lam was charged in February 2021 with 46 other pro-democracy activists under the national security law after he stood for election in an unofficial 2020 Hong Kong pro-democracy primaries.  He pleaded guilty on Monday and has agreed to be a prosecution witness at the West Kowloon Magistrates Court.  Some businesses which claimed to be on the pro-democratic side announced that they would no longer trade with AbouThai.  “MeeApp”, an application which provides rewards for people spending at “pro-democratic” stores and restaurants, announced on their Facebook page on Monday that they would remove AbouThai from their platform.  “AbouThai is one of the most popular businesses on the platform and Mee purchased their vouchers with money for members to redeem. We have spent tens of thousands of dollars,” the statement reads. “As fellows, we could understand each other’s hardships and circumstances.” “However, this should not include pointing your knife at fellows as it is the foundation for being ‘fellows’.” Chapman To, a Hong Kong actor with a food importing business, said on Facebook that he won’t be selling his products at …


Hong Kong stock market plunges as Sino-US tension rises

  • By: Yixin Gao、Kin Hou POONEdited by: Bella Ding、Mei Ching LEE、Zimo ZHONG
  • 2023-02-06

Hong Kong stocks slumped on Monday amid growing concerns over the spy balloon incident between China and the US and the bet on Chinese full border reopening. The Hang Seng Index opened 311 points lower this morning and dropped 2.1% to 21,222 at the close of Monday trading with a HK$136.02 billion turnover. The Hang Seng Technology Index went down by 3.7%. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index dipped by 2.7%. A US military fighter jet shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon on Saturday, while the Chinese government said it was a stray civilian airship blown off course. “The Hang Seng Index had been rising since November last year, once up over 8,000 points. Therefore, the market is sensitive to adverse news. Friday's incident about China's ‘spy balloon’ made investors feel uneasy, leading to a fall in today’s stock market,” said Sam Chi-yung, Strategist at Patrons Securities limited.  Bilibili(09626) decreased by 5.4% to HK$186.6. Meituan(03690) dropped 5% to HK$164.1. Tencent(00700) slid 2.1% to HK$376.8. Southbound Stock Connect trading funds, however, bucked the trend, buying a net of nearly HK$2 billion for the day. The Chinese authorities announced on Feb. 3 that mainland China would fully reopen the borders with Hong Kong and Macau from today. The travel and tourism industry performed a 0.5% increase under the overall negative performance of the stock market, according to AASTOCK. Feiyang Group(01901) increased by 10.1% to HK$1.31. Guangdong Nan Yue Logistics Company Limited(03399) went up 5.5% to HK$1.15. Global MasterMind Securities Limited(08063) rose 4.6% to HK$0.068. “There will be more opportunities for both personal and corporate business travel. With relatively weak business operating dynamics in the previous three years affected by COVID-19, the industry should see a more pronounced upturn in the future,” said Harris Wan Kong-sing, Vice President of iFast Global Market.