Time for HK to weld those manhole covers open

As a glance around the Macau ferry cabin shows, if you put a Mainland tourist in a seat on some form of transportation he or she will almost instantly fall asleep, whatever the time of day. So you’d have thought they’d be happy to spend the night in a bus – a stationary one, indeed, for extra comfort. But apparently not.

The big story in Hong Kong today is the trauma faced by an elegant Manchurian-visaged lady from all the way up in Jilin, who felt she hadn’t really stayed in Hong Kong, what with one night being spent in a parked coach after a tour group mishap. Meanwhile, Ocean Park turned visitors away for the second day running when it filled up. The tourism lobby’s response is to plead for more attractions; legislator Yiu Si-wing says, in effect, screw the Hong Kong people’s need for affordable homes, and use land to build some idiotic fake ‘Shaolin’ monastery for his parasitical industry.

As it happens, the Chinese New Year five-day weekend started off with Tourism Commissioner Philip Yung indicating that it is dawning on the Hong Kong government that the city needs to do something about this deluge of visitors. Officials will, he says, review the capacity of immigration, hotel and other tourist facilities. Tellingly, he feels a need to warn us not to assume that they will consider curbing the individual visit regime that gives many Mainlanders multiple entry access to the Big Lychee. For that is, indeed, what 99% of us will want to assume.

A quick glance at the Tourism Commission reveals a rather motley assemblage of bureaucrats tasked with facilitating, liaising, liaising and facilitating all manner of superfluous projects designed to attract yet more and more tourists into the Big Lychee. One of them also has to ‘housekeep’ the HK Tourism Board, which does the marketing and publicity flimflam devoted to the same gruesome aim; another coordinates MICE tourism initiatives. With such exciting, meaningful empires to run, they will side with the landlord/retail/hotel lobby rather than the community, and focus on expanding capacity rather than tackling the demand side.

The fact that both the commercial and bureaucratic interests accept that there is a problem is important. They are implicitly admitting that our sacred tourism industry imposes costs as well as benefits. They are also, reluctantly, highlighting some key questions. How many more Mainland visitors can we realistically cram into this city? There must be a physical limit to the number of traders crisscrossing the border with tons of stuff as absurd as instant noodles. (Seriously: how much profit can you make on that?) There are only so many shoppers of fashion, cosmetics and gold you can cram onto the sidewalks of Causeway Bay and Tsimshatsui. Cake shops, Lantau campsites, the Mid-Levels Escalator and a thousand other spots can only handle so many bodies.

And, more philosophically, who is the city for?  Before 1997, officials assured us that strict immigration controls at the border were to be a vital ingredient in ensuring ‘50 years, no change’. Just as we wouldn’t have to share tax revenues with the Mainland, nor would we have to share our territorial space. Call it selfish or less-than-patriotic, but that’s what the Basic Law said. What happened to that?

Our politicians are mostly too busy reporting Chief Executive CY Leung to the Independent Commission Against Corruption on what seems like a weekly basis, but if they could spare the time there would surely be a receptive audience for some serious solutions to an unsustainable problem that profits a small handful at the expense of the rest of us. Shut Disneyland down, and use the space for housing; it would solve the ‘land shortage’ at a stroke, and transport links are even already in place. Impose a hefty tax on luxury crap, and to hell with that ‘free port’ reputation, which was originally about opium anyway. Induce Beijing to scrap the Mainland’s taxes and duties on imports and luxuries, which it will sometime – probably just after the Tourism Commission has made us pay for extra immigration halls and other infrastructure that will subsequently go unused.

The list could go on. There is even a name for it, courtesy of the Urban Dictionary, a compilation of contemporary slang and usage …

Counter-tourism (n.) Offensive measures taken to deter, prevent and respond to tourism.

Before the 2010 Vancouver Olympics began, all the manhole covers in and around the city were welded open as a counter-tourism measure.

Great moments in creeping Mainlandization: The good ship ‘New Nation’ uses the traditional rather than simplified character ’國 ’but insists on using the Mandarin-in-Pinyin form for the Romanized name, rather than the local Cantonese-in-whatever system, in which it would come out something like ‘Sun Kwok’ - which many right-thinking people would surely consider more pleasing to the eye.


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14 Responses to Time for HK to weld those manhole covers open

  1. Mary Hinge says:

    “And, more philosophically, who is [Hong Kong] for?”

    Great question. This guy has a few ideas:


  2. Bob "Bobby" Roberts says:

    Traditional character with pinyin is used in some parts of Taiwan. Fifth column?

  3. Bela Bulging says:

    I’m sorry. I will take down that billboard I put up in Stanley Main Street:

    Offer ends 14th February. HKTA.

    Instead, I’m having a thousand badges run up:

    Now go home.

    There’s no greater fun to be had than stuffing buses with tourists at 5 pm. All the while singing ” We would hate to lose you but we think you ought to go.” I love it.

    One more time…this chaos is for us all to ENJOY!

    Big rectum swallows head of snake, as Confucius said, but no one saw fit to write it down.

  4. Property Developer says:

    What we need, Hemlock, is some sort of super-synthesis, embodying, incorporating and pre-digesting in your inimitable manner (a) mainlanders in HK (b) the property market and (c) high-level corruption and/or fraud scandals. There must be, mustn’t there, links between all three?

    Then we can get on with normal life.

    Mandarin pinyin is normally used in English for mainland (and other overseas?) things; jyutping for HK ones. “International” (the term is official, borrowed from mainland airports) ferries between us and them are a grey area, corresponding to HK-mainland relations, which, in the Basic Law, meant little more than defence and diplomacy, but have, locust-like, invaded all aspects of our existence.

  5. Aghast says:

    How do you weld something open?

  6. Aghast says:

    Oh yeah, I get it. Um.

  7. Failed Alchemist says:

    Its times like this that we miss Eva Cheng – all we need now is opening our roads to Mainland cars, illegal delivery vans, pirate taxis, the whole family sitting on a motorcycle taking a cheap holiday in HK and not least a fight between “our” tycoons and the red ones for double parking space in Central…. welcome to the year of the snake!!

  8. pcatbar says:

    I hope those of my near neighbours who are senior civil servants, (including CY himself) were trying to get home anytime from 11am – 8pm on 11-13 Feb. If so they would have been held up in traffic for 30 mins while crawling no more than 1.5 km up Peak Road at less than walking pace, (when moving at all). Said traffic consisted 70% taxis because there were insufficient buses to ferry the unimaginative mainland tourists to the ‘top of the hill’, (as if it were the only one in HK worth visiting)! Perhaps this little bit of personal inconvenience will serve to get the truth into their impenetrable skulls that such unbridled tourism is not the boon the vested interests pretend!

  9. Bela Bulging says:


    Travel Industry Council chairman Michael Wu Siu-ying said the city was not at its limit.

    “This is not saturation,” he said, adding that both tourists and the businesses that catered to them needed to plan well.

  10. Sir Crispin says:

    “If you put a Mainland tourist in a seat on some form of transportation he or she will” . . . begin talking at 100 decibels to the person immediately next to them for the duration of the trip.

  11. Phileas Fogg says:

    Oops. Wrong Crispin. Mainlanders like locals take one windiw seat at the front and shout to dispersed relatives and companions in window seats in rows 4, 7, 12, 15….

  12. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    Lay off the mainlanders social habits. Empathy is a luxury enjoyed by folks who grew up in a civilisation with <1bn people. Consideration for others is a competitive disadvantage that would disappear in the Darwinistic struggle very quickly.

  13. Incredulous says:

    Of course with Hong Kong and Kowloon and NT being inundated with “locusts”. there is the knock on effect of all the indigenous HKers now flooding the Outlying Islands making lives miserable for residents there as well! Case in point Yung Shue Wan Main Street on Lamma is a no go area for locals at weekends and Public Holidays and anyone foolish enough to go to town can’t get back on a ferry during the day. Any shop that becomes vacant is immediately turned into yet another tacky souvenir shop and vacant flats are being turned into “guesthouses” forcing rents sky-high for all the other flats. This has got to stop!

  14. Joe says:

    Stop breeding.
    THAT is the problem.
    What happened to the “one child” rule? Even at 1 it seemed to be inadequate.

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