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Cross-border visa rules eased to boost HK economy
Latest Updated at 2008-December-22 14:45:22
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Shenzhen residents with hukou will be allowed to apply for multiple-entry visas to Hong Kong, the SAR chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen has said.

Also, people from other provinces living in Shenzhen will be allowed to apply for Hong Kong visas through the individual visitor's scheme without returning to their home provinces.

The two new measures, announced by Tsang in Beijing on Friday, were among 14 unveiled by the Central Government to bolster Hong Kong's economy in the global financial crisis.

"These two ground-breaking arrangements may not only increase the number of visitors under the individual visitor's scheme. They will also be more convenient for trading activities between Hong Kong and Shenzhen," Tsang said. He did not say when the new policies would take effect.

Shenzhen has a population of 12 million, of which about 2.2 million are residents with hukou, who will be eligible to apply for the new one-year multiple-entry visas.

Under an agreement signed by Shenzhen and Hong Kong earlier this year, migrant workers in Shenzhen are now allowed to join group tours to the SAR, with the first group leaving today.

The scheme benefits people without Shenzhen hukou who have worked in the city for at least one year.

Michael Wu Siu-ieng, chairman of the Hong Kong Association of Travel Agents, estimated that the number of mainland visitors would rise by 5 percent to more than 16 million per year. He hoped the new arrangements would start before Jan. 5.

Joseph Tung Yao-chung, director of the Hong Kong Travel Industry Council, welcomed the new measures.

Noting that Hong Kongers made more than 10 million visits to Shenzhen every year, Tung said the new arrangements would allow Shenzhen residents to visit, shop and celebrate different occasions in Hong Kong more often

Editor: Yan

By: Source: Szdaily web edition

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