Individual Visit Scheme - More, or Fewer?

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The Individual Visit Scheme (<港澳個人遊>,通稱<自由行>) was launched in July 2003 to help boost the Hong Kong economy after the SARS outbreak from March to June in that year. Since then, about 80 million visitors from the mainland have traveled to Hong Kong, bringing to HK more than HK$630 billion, and providing a shot to the city's economy.

In August 2012, the central government planned to broaden the scheme further to allow Shenzhen's non-permanent residents to visit Hong Kong on multiple-entry visas. However, the plan was put on hold in light of the debates and concerns expressed against this continuously rising number of mainland visitors.

This collection of articles from the South China Morning Post gives a comprehensive overview of the Individual Visit Scheme. While the scheme has brought economic benefits to Hong Kong, the increasing number of mainland visitor has also brought about some negative impacts on this city, such as milk powder supply shortage, rise in commodity and property prices, congestion in shopping districts like Mongkok, Tsimshatsui, Causeway Bay, parallel-traders swamping the Sheung Shui station…etc.

Would all these problems be gone if the Scheme is halted? Will we be facing a different set of problems instead? Are we able to leverage the rising number of mainland visitors to generate more business opportunities for Hong Kong? For instance, are there any ways to increase the milk powder supply to Hong Kong? What have to be done if we wish to build up a milk powder sales outlet in northern part of the New Territories to facilitate these visitors to get what they want? Instead of complaining and curbing the number of incoming visitors, shouldn’t we be looking for strategies and ways to turn this deadlocked position into a win-win situation?

Related link(s)
China�s individual visit scheme boosts Hong Kong�s economy (source: WantChinaTimes, October 2012)