HZMB tour groups can book bus tickets
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.