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Tourism Sector Skeptical of Hong Kong CEPA Benefits
Update: 8/5/2008 1:01:00 AM Source: Hong Kong Hotel


The newly-signed Supplement V to the Hong Kong-Mainland Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) will possibly not help bring benefits for Hong Kong tourism enterprises, local insiders said yesterday.

Under the new supplement, which was signed in Hong Kong last Tuesday, enterprises from the SAR will be able to set up travel agencies in Guangdong pending approval from the local government starting from next year.

The new arrangement will also enable the Hong Kong residents to take examinations to become tourist guide on the mainland.

"Hong Kong enterprises will focus more on outbound travels if they set up agencies in Guangdong. But currently outbound services have not been fully opened to overseas-invested agencies on the mainland," said Wang Jian, spokesman of the China Travel Service (Guangdong).

As a result, Hong Kong enterprises would not take hasty decision to open agencies in the province, Wang said.

Over the last decade, there have been about 20 foreign-invested travel agencies on the mainland under approval from the top state tourism administrative authority.

"But they hardly make profits on the mainland," Wang said.

Citing an example that the first Hong Kong-invested travel agency in Shenzhen set up in 2005 faced many difficulties on the mainland, Wang said: "They may not know well about the mainland travel market."

However, Wang said the introduction of Hong Kong tourist guides might help boost development of local travel agencies.

"Many travel agencies on the mainland have opened outbound travel services and they have already employed tourist guides from Hong Kong who are more skilled in outbound services," said Wang.

And from next year, Hong Kong tourist guides are expected to find jobs without limitations, according to Wang.

"As a result, the introduction of Hong Kong tourist guides will allow travel agencies on the mainland to better offer outbound services," Wang told China Daily yesterday.

Gu Xuncai, chairman of the Guangzhou Travel Industry Association, said: "The permits for Hong Kong tourist guides entering the mainland market will help bring their skills and experiences to travel agencies here."

In the long term, the introduction of Hong Kong guides may allow their counterparts on the mainland to be more skilled in outbound travel service, Gu said.

Editor: canton fair

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