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Xi'an, Qingdao to join HK, Macao individual visit plan

BY :China Daily

UPDATED :2024-02-27

Spring Festival decorations are seen on a street in Hong Kong, South China, January 31, 2024. (Photo/Xinhua)

People from Xi'an in Shaanxi province and Qingdao in Shandong province will soon be eligible to visit the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions (SAR) in an individual capacity, as the State Council on February 23 added the two cities to the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) effective from March 6.

According to the National Immigration Administration, under the scheme, eligible people from Xi'an and Qingdao can apply for individual visit endorsements for Hong Kong and Macao for leisure purposes on an individual basis. Holders of these endorsements will be permitted to stay in the two cities for a maximum of seven days per visit.

Currently, residents from 49 designated cities on the Chinese mainland, including provincial capitals such as Wuhan, Changsha, and Beijing, Shanghai, as well as 21 cities in Guangdong province, are eligible to visit under the IVS.

During a media conference on February 23, John Lee Ka-chiu, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, expressed his gratitude to the central government for responding to the SAR government's proposal to increase the number of eligible cities.

He said that this expansion once again demonstrated the central government's care for Hong Kong and its support for the city's economic development.

Both Xi'an and Qingdao are significant cities with populations of over 10 million and strong GDP figures, Lee said. He believes the residents of these cities, with high purchasing power and income levels, will contribute to the growth of high-value-added overnight visitors, as well as the local hotel, tourism and catering industries in Hong Kong.

Lee stressed the government is striving to improve its capacity to accommodate the gradual and orderly growth in tourists.

Peter Shiu Ka-fai, a lawmaker representing the wholesale and retail constituency, also affirmed the positive impact of the move on the retail, tourism and catering industries.

Noting it is difficult to determine exact figures of growth at this stage, Shiu hoped the "one trip per week" endorsement enjoyed by Shenzhen residents could be extended to other mainland cities of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

Tourism sector legislator Perry Yiu Pak-leung said that expanding the number of IVS cities would provide more opportunities for Hong Kong residents to explore and visit the corresponding cities on the mainland, fostering greater exchanges.

Yiu proposed expanding the list to include provincial capitals not covered under the IVS.

Chan Pui-leung, a Hong Kong lawmaker and also a member of the Xi'an Municipal Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said that he was delighted to see Xi'an being included in the expanded list.

He believed this will foster increased exchanges and people-to-people contact between Xi'an and Hong Kong.

Looking ahead, Chan suggested that Hong Kong increase the duty-free quota for mainland visitors and organize more brand-name events to enhance the development of the city's tourism industry.

In 2003, when the scheme was introduced, the number of mainland visitors traveling to Hong Kong under the scheme was about 667,000. The figures surged to 31.3 million in 2014, and 55.9 million by 2019.

Editor: Joyce