"Actively seizing the opportunities arising from the country's new development pattern featuring 'dual circulation' to revitalize the post-pandemic economy" (2021/07/08)

"Actively seizing the opportunities arising from the country's new development pattern featuring 'dual circulation' to revitalize the post-pandemic economy" (2021/07/08)

MR YIU SI-WING (in Cantonese):

President, in the light of the pandemic and changing international landscape, the Central Government proposed for the first time in May last year, to establish a new development pattern featuring domestic and international "dual circulation", which enables domestic and foreign markets to interact positively with each other. On the one hand, this aims to boost the vitality of the domestic circulation through the huge consumption market in the Mainland in order to facilitate economic development and expand domestic demand. On the other hand, given the competitive edge in China's products, innovation and technology, international circulation can further increase its revenues and influence at the international economic level. I am grateful to Mr Martin LIAO for proposing the motion, which enables us to discuss Hong Kong's integration into the overall development of the country with respect to our areas of concern.


Hong Kong is an externally oriented economy and relies heavily on the service industries. In particular, the four pillars of the economy are our priority industries. If we are able to contain the epidemic and enter the post-pandemic period under the planning for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area ("GBA"), the "dual circulation" strategy will offer the four pillar industries of Hong Kong greater room for development. The Government needs to seize the various opportunities brought by the "dual circulation" so that our economy can regain its growth momentum.


President, as the Mainland manages to contain the epidemic, its tourism industry is recovering steadily. According to the national Ministry of Culture and Tourism, China saw a total of 230 million domestic tourist trips during the May Day holiday this year, generating over RMB110 billion in revenue and is 77% of the corresponding pre-pandemic level. In neighbouring Macao, visitor arrivals totalled 3.4 million between January and May this year, with most of them from the Mainland. Although the number falls short of the level during normal times, its tourism industry has shown signs of recovery. The tourism industry as one of the four pillars of Hong Kong, however, pales in comparison. Under the development pattern of "dual circulation" among the three places, tourism is still facing the most difficulties and will be the last industry to recover. Our inbound and outbound tourism remained frozen between January and May this year, with only 27 000 inbound visitors, representing a significant year-on-year decline of 99.2%. Given that there are still many uncertainties about the epidemic situation, the Government needs to continue to keep in view and offer assistance.


Tourism is one of Hong Kong's pillar industries, and our tourism sector has played a pivotal role in various aspects of tourism in GBA over the years. If there had not been the pandemic, Hong Kong would definitely have played a bigger role in the new development pattern of "dual circulation". Unfortunately, Hong Kong is still unable to resume cross-boundary travel with the Mainland and Macao. The Hong Kong-Singapore Air Travel Bubble has been postponed twice, with no date set for resumption. In view of the unprecedented plight, it is difficult for Hong Kong to play the intended role in the "dual circulation" pattern for the time being. Therefore, the industry and I have all along hoped that the Hong Kong Government will negotiate with the Mainland and Macao authorities for a border reopening mechanism to accommodate the post-pandemic new normal and resume cross-boundary travel as soon as possible. Only with the resumption of cross-boundary travel can various industries of Hong Kong, especially tourism, recover and have a chance to participate in the development of GBA or even China's domestic circulation, and then progressively take part in international circulation in the light of the overseas epidemic situation.


President, this year's Budget has earmarked $765 million for the Hong Kong Tourism Board ("HKTB"), with a short-term goal of boosting local consumption, a medium-term goal of bringing back visitors and a long-term goal of reinventing Hong Kong's tourism brand. However, given that a quarter of the current financial year has elapsed and no timetable has been set for the resumption of cross-boundary travel, there is arguably limited room for bringing back visitors and reinventing our tourism brand. Therefore, I hope that the resources will be mainly devoted to boosting local consumption. Recently, HKTB has introduced a range of activities under the "Free Tour" programme and they are well-received by consumers as well as the retail, catering and tourism sectors. HKTB should further increase the funding for the programme to benefit more sectors and members of the public, and enhance its overseas publicity work in the light of the actual situation.


President, in view of the increasingly rapid economic development in the Mainland, Hong Kong's participation in the country's new development pattern of "dual circulation" will definitely do all good and no harm. The Government should make all sorts of preparations for active participation.


With these remarks, I support Mr Martin LIAO's motion.