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New Hong Kong center may open close to border with mainland China



A lawmaker has confirmed that a new center may be opened close to the Lok Ma Chau border checkpoint.


Wong Ting-kwong, a representative of the import and export sector, has revealed that a deal has been struck with a group of villagers to convert a 420000 sq ft site into an outdoor shopping center. The site is located on the convergence of San Tin Tsuen and Castle Peak Roads, which is currently being used for car repair workshops, warehouses and parking. The plan is to make use of hundreds of shipping containers to quickly convert this area into a shopping center in time for the ‘golden week’ holiday which commences on October 1.


This plan is being implemented after residents of towns such as Tuen Mun and Sheung Shui expressed their anger at traders who purchased goods in Hong Kong to resell on the mainland. They state that it places tremendous pressure on public transport and stores selling necessities.


Wong has expressed hope that tenants will be moved out by the end of May so that work on installing the containers can be commenced. The plan is to rent half of these containers to Hong Kong brand retailers, one third to those selling products such as diapers, milk powder, sportswear and clothing, and the balance will be for those providing beverages and food.


The investment into this new center will be hundreds of millions of dollars and it will be able to provide facilities for 3000 visitors each hour.


A district councilor and a travel agent have cast doubt over the difference this project will eventually make.


According to the honorary president of the Inbound Tour Operators Association, Charles Ng Kwong-wai, the development will potentially be used mostly by tourists making use of the individual visit scheme, which allows residents of 40 of the mainland cities to visit Hong Kong outside of group tours. He stated that those who travel with groups were unlikely to make use of this facility as they have access to malls in convenient areas such as Yau Tong and Kwun Tong.


The district councilor of Tuen Mun district, Kaman So Ka-man, said tourists will be attracted by the diversity of the products and price, but malls will react to this by offering more discounts.


Those making use of the individual visit scheme increased by 7.6%, to reach 16.5m during last year. The number of visits by Shenzhen residents, who were allowed multiple trips to the city, reached 14.9 million. This figure has increased by 22.2% compared to 2013. During last year, the total visits by mainlanders reached 47.2m. This is an increase of 16% on the previous year.


This increase in visitors has sparked protests and concern. Activists based in Tuen Mun stated that almost 12000 people from the mainland arrived on buses during a three-hour period during last month. It was later agreed by Citybus that they would stop selling bulk tickets to malls, which had made use of free transport to attract shoppers.


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