The Shenzhen government has announced that applications for visits to Hong Hong under the Individual Visit Scheme will be accepted from non-Guangdong residents in Shenzhen with effect from December 15, 2010.
Under the new measure non-Guangdong residents in Shenzhen who have residence permits valid for more than one year can apply for individual visits to Hong Kong.
In response to the announcement, the chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, James Tien said that the HKTB welcomed this new measure launched by the mainland authority, which will create new visitor sources from mainland China to Hong Kong and allow non-Shenzhen residents greater convenience when traveling to Hong Kong.
According to data provided by the Shenzhen authorities, an additional four million non-Shenzhen residents will be eligible for the expanded scheme, which aims to encourage them to make consumption visits to Hong Kong and to drive the growth in mainland arrivals: especially same-day visits.
Since the launch in April 2010 of year-round multiple-entry visa arrangements for Shenzhen residents to visit Hong Kong, over 4.77 million Shenzhen residents have taken advantage of these arrangements to travel to Hong Kong.
Tien said that the HKTB hoped that the central government will extend such measure to residents of other cities in Guangdong province. This would not only bring the convenience of multiple-entry visa arrangements to more Mainland visitors, but would also bring greater business opportunities to the Hong Kong tourism industry and related sectors.
Since the beginning of 2010, mainland visitor arrivals have been seeing considerable growth to surpass 20 million in the first eleven months, representing a 27% increase year-on-year. As of mid-December, the number of mainland tourist arrivals to Hong Kong exceeded 21 million, and they accounted for 60% of the city's total tourist arrivals.