"Driving the development of New Territories North with port economy" (2021/05/13)

"Driving the development of New Territories North with port economy" (2021/05/13)

MR YIU SI-WING (in Cantonese): President, I have added the proposal of developing tourism in Sha Tau Kok Town in my amendment. I hope that Members will support it.


Since 2012, the Government has opened closed areas such as Robin's Nest and Ta Kwu Ling in stages to develop ecotourism. However, for security reasons, Chung Ying Street and Sha Tau Kok Town are still classified as closed areas. In fact, the location of the area is rather unique; it has historical and educational significance and is suitable for developing boundary tourism and marine tourism.


Located along the boundary of Shenzhen and Hong Kong, Sha Tau Kok Town and Chung Ying Street on the Hong Kong side are not open up to the public and people find them very mysterious. Chung Ying Street is a street with very special features. As the boundary of Shenzhen and Hong Kong, it has no barrier walls or fences and is completely open with only the Stone Obelisk marking the boundary. To the north of Chung Ying Street is Shenzhen, and to its South is Hong Kong. The patrolling of boundary control officers of both Guangdong and Hong Kong on the same street is a classic scene of Chung Ying Street.


After its opening up and reform, the Mainland has granted limited access to Chung Ying Street which has hit a record high of receiving 100 000 visitors per day. The visitors mainly shopped in Chung Ying Street. With the development of the Mainland economy, Chung Ying Street has gradually lost its edge as a shopping destination. At present, there are only a few shops in operation. Due to low people flow, security is no longer a problem. As for tourism resources, San Lau Street which parallels to Chung Ying Street is made up of 22 shop-houses. It is currently the longest street with shop-houses in Hong Kong and has been classified as a Grade 2 historic building. Since their completion in 1934, these houses have not been altered and retained their original appearances. It is indeed a pity if the street area with such a high historical value is left unused.


On the periphery of Sha Tau Kok Town, there are plenty of world-class green tourism resources with many spots of geological interests, including Lai Chi Wo, Yan Chau Tong, Kat O and Ap Chau. These places attract many tour groups and hikers during festive seasons and the holidays. In recent years, Lai Chi Wo has been successfully revived as a tourist hotspot in Hong Kong. However, travelling to these tourist spots is very inconvenient at present. We have to take a ferry trip of at least one and a half hours from Ma Liu Shui in the New Territories, but it is a lot closer if we start off from Sha Tau Kok. Since Sha Tau Kok has all along been designated as a closed area, members of the public must have sufficient grounds before applying for a closed area permit ("CAP"). Similarly, access to Chung Ying Street is granted only to residents of Sha Tau Kok. If other members of the public wish to enter Chung Ying Street, they must access via Shenzhen.


Although "kaito" ferry services to Kat O and Ap Chau are provided at the Sha Tau Kok Public Pier, they are available to holders of CAPs only. Currently, the authorities of Shenzhen and Hong Kong have adopted quite different approaches in developing Chung Ying Street. The Shenzhen authorities have designated Chung Ying Street as a patriotic tourist spot and established the Zhongying Street Historical Museum. They have also restored the Tin Hau Palace and the Ng Ancestral Hall in Chung Ying Street, thereby developing Chung Ying Street into valuable and educational tourism resource. On the contrary, the Hong Kong authorities have failed to make any planning and left the place unattended for a long time. As a result, the place looks very backward. The SAR Government has the responsibility to reflect on ways to turn the declining situation around.


President, people flow is the primary prerequisite for developing Sha Tau Kok. I suggest that in the early stage, CAPs can be granted with quotas. Members of the public and tour groups can apply for CAPs to obtain limited access to tour around Sha Tau Kok Town and travel to Kat O, Lai Chi Wo and the tourist spots in the periphery via the Sha Tau Kok Public Pier, thus creating a green tourism route. In the future, restrictions can be gradually relaxed in the light of visitor flows and demands. This will help revive the tourism resources and improve the economy of the area. Why would the Government decline to do so?


President, I so submit.