HZMB tour groups can book bus tick­ets

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By KATHY ZHANG in Hong Kong kathyzhang@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

Tour groups trav­el­ing to Hong Kong via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Ma­cao Bridge can book their shut­tle bus tick­ets in fu­ture as part of var­i­ous mea­sures to be im­ple­mented to ease the pres­sure on port fa­cil­i­ties and re­duce po­ten­tial dis­rup­tion to Hong Kong res­i­dents, par­tic­u­larly those at Tung Chung on Lan­tau Is­land.

Sec­re­tary for Trans­port and Hous­ing Frank Chan Fan re­vealed the mea­sure on Fri­day — about two weeks af­ter the mega cross-bound­ary in­fra­struc­ture be­gan op­er­a­tion, with tens of thou­sands of vis­i­tors pour­ing into the city and many hav­ing to wait for hours for shut­tle buses at the Hong Kong check­point near Tung Chung on week­ends.

The Hong Kong au­thor­i­ties and the shut­tle bus op­er­a­tor have now agreed to al­low trav­el­ers in tour groups to book their shut­tle bus tick­ets be­fore they reach the bridge — a move that’s ex­pected to help the op­er­a­tor cope bet­ter with pas­sen­ger flow.

De­tails, such as how to book tick­ets, will have to be fur­ther dis­cussed among stake­hold­ers, Chan said, and they will be an­nounced in due course.

Shut­tle buses on the HZMB ply be­tween Hong Kong port and Zhuhai and Ma­cao ports.

The chaotic con­di­tions caused by the sud­den in­flux of vis­i­tors fol­low­ing the bridge’s open­ing sparked com­plaints from res­i­dents in Tung Chung — the town cen­ter near­est to the lo­cal check­point — over streets, buses, restau­rants and shops be­ing swamped by vis­i­tors on week­ends.

To solve the prob­lem, Chan urged vis­i­tors to take the B5 bus to Sunny Bay — an MTR sta­tion near Tung Chung — and then pro­ceed to other places by train.

Sec­re­tary for Com­merce and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Ed­ward Yau Tang-wah said the au­thor­i­ties and the tourism sec­tors in Hong Kong and on the main­land have been try­ing to ease the dis­rup­tion caused to Hong Kong res­i­dents, par­tic­u­larly in Tung Chung.

The spe­cial ad­min­is­tra­tive re­gion gov­ern­ment has been dis­cussing with the De­part­ment of Cul­ture and Tourism of Guang­dong Prov­ince over the mat­ter. “The au­thor­i­ties in Guang­dong prov­ince have is­sued in­struc­tions and guide­lines to lo­cal travel agen­cies op­er­at­ing those tours,” Yau said.

Cur­rently, tour groups com­ing to Hong Kong have to in­form the Travel In­dus­try Coun­cil of Hong Kong — the au­tho­rized self-reg­u­la­tor of the travel in­dus­try — 48 hours be­fore their ar­rival and use a lo­cal op­er­a­tor for travel in the city.

Un­der Hong Kong’s Im­mi­gra­tion Or­di­nance, vis­i­tors are not al­lowed to take up any form of em­ploy­ment, whether paid or un­paid. This means that main­land tour guides in Hong Kong would be vi­o­lat­ing the law if a lo­cal tour op­er­a­tor is not en­gaged. They face a max­i­mum fine of HK$50,000 and im­pris­on­ment for two years upon con­vic­tion.

Chan, who de­scribed the HZMB as a “cen­ten­nial project”, pre­dicted that the num­ber of trav­el­ers be­tween Hong Kong, the main­land and Ma­cao us­ing the bridge will keep ris­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to Im­mi­gra­tion De­part­ment data, more than 55,100 vis­i­tors ar­rived in Hong Kong by shut­tle bus and cross­bound­ary coaches last Sun­day, set­ting a record fol­low­ing the bridge’s open­ing.

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