Individual Visit Scheme

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While the considerable number of mainland visitors from the Individual Visit Scheme still remains controversial, the government has decided to open the city’s door even wider. From next month, there will be an additional of 4.1 million non-permanent Shenzhen residents that can make multiple visits to Hong Kong due to the change in permit rules. In addition, non-local residents of another five places can make single visit to Hong Kong without being required to make application from their hometown. (Nip and He, 2012) The immense amount of mainland tourists means the crowded city will be overwhelmed sooner or later. Hong Kong as a tourism hub, should she scale down the Individual Visit Scheme to prevent overwhelming of infrastructures?

At the inception of the Individual Visit Scheme, it has received a big applause from the general public, especially the retailing and service sectors, considering the obvious positive effects it has on the economy. But like any other contentious issues, the scheme does have its shortcomings that are innate in the new policy itself.

Hong Kong was dealt a severe blow in the summer of 2003 with the outbreak of SARS. The long established reputation of the city as one of the safest places to travel to in Asia was diminished overnight, as the city was branded a SARS infected area. Inevitably, the tourism industry was adversely affected. The number of both Mainland and overseas visitors took a nose dive to a level which was unprecedented in recent years. In order to rescue one of our guarded industries, the government, with the full support of the central government, started the Individual Visit Scheme to allow visitors from mainland China to enter Hong Kong on an individual basis. Prior to the Scheme, Mainland residents usually could only travel to the territory on business visas or in group tours. The scheme has become the talk of the town and has in general received a big applause from the general public, especially the retailing...
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