Supplementary Question on Legislative Council Meeting – Q1 Traffic problems in the Southern District & Q4 New norm of the tourism industry

Q1 Traffic problems in the Southern District

MR CHAN CHUN-YING (in Cantonese):

Deputy President, in early 2020, when the Government planned to seek $10.6 billion from the Legislative Council for the expansion of Ocean Park, it mentioned that two piers would be constructed along the coast of the Park to improve the sea traffic to and from the Park as well as the entire Southern District.

The funding for the expansion subsequently became two sums of “life-saving” funding. Ocean Park undertook that it would still commit to the construction of these two piers. However, one and a half years have passed and we have not heard any progress from the Government. To date, the public do not know the timetable of the Government nor the latest progress about the construction and commissioning of the two piers. Moreover, will these two piers be open to public use so as to provide an additional transport option for residents in the Southern District?


Deputy President, I thank Mr CHAN for his supplementary question. We support the construction of the piers by Ocean Park to enhance its connecting transport and facilitate the arrival and departure of its visitors. However, I do not have the relevant information at hand since the proposal is put forth by Ocean Park. In any event, as far as transport policy is concerned, our policy is clear. We welcome anyone who is interested in operating ferry services or any water transport to submit their proposals to which we will give active consideration. So basically, after the expansion of the Ocean Park or construction of the piers, if Ocean Park is interested in providing ferry services, we will duly consider its proposal and deal with it in a positive manner under the policy just mentioned.

Q4 New norm of the tourism industry

MR CHAN CHUN-YING (in Cantonese):

President, we have heard that there are more and more travel bubbles across the world, and the Secretary has also mentioned in his main reply that he is negotiating Air Travel Bubble, but so far we have heard about only one bubble, which is the travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore. I have no idea why we have failed to create even one bubble despite working for so long. Now it is said that the travel bubble with Singapore will be reviewed again in June. May I know what the latest situation is and whether we will continue to negotiate other bubbles after securing this one, so that Hong Kong people can have more choices of bubbles?


President, I thank Mr CHAN Chun-ying for his supplementary question. Let me take this opportunity to elaborate on something. When bubbles are mentioned, many people fret about the prospect of bursting and suggest that we change the name. If a change of name was the solution, of course that would be the easiest thing to do, but as the name suggests, the travel bubble is not a soap bubble, but rather something in the form of a bubble to hopefully protect the places therein where travel resumes and to make traffic and passenger movements possible on the premise of pandemic prevention. The first place in the world where the idea of bubbles has been floated is not Hong Kong, but the region of Australia and New Zealand. We see that a bubble has been implemented in the region of Australia and New Zealand, but there have also been pauses. Just last week, the bubble between Melbourne and New Zealand was put on hold.

Mr CHAN asks with how many places Hong Kong has been discussing ways to resume bilateral cross-border travel. In fact, since the middle of last year, I have been discussing related matters with many countries in Europe, Asia and the Pacific region. However, the basis of discussion is that people of both Hong Kong and the place concerned feel at ease with anti-pandemic safety measures in place. Therefore, first off, I especially consulted the health authorities about how many places in the world would enable us to allow their residents to come to Hong Kong without quarantine? Indeed, to date, there are not many. The places we feel more comfortable with are the Mainland or those close to us, but there are not many such places further afield. Nevertheless, just because we have discussed with the authorities of one place does not mean that we will not discuss with those of another. The system we have discussed with Singapore in the past has been shared with other places. When bombarded with questions, we always point out clearly that if we want to establish a safety bubble for bilateral travel, there are many conditions to meet. For example, the epidemic situations in both places must be similar, testing is mandatory before departure and upon arrival, flights are subject to epidemic inspection and, as we have recently advocated, Hong Kong people should take good precautions to protect themselves against the epidemic if they want to be a part of the bubble. These conditions are all preliminary and we welcome the authorities of any place to discuss them.

As for the negotiation with Singapore, we will have to see how fast Singapore is turning the corner on the recent community outbreak. We will look into the situation there and review it in consultation our health authorities before continuing with this effort. While it is our hope to resume travel as soon as possible, we need to be well prepared for the possible ups and downs in such arrangement as it will also be affected by the epidemic situation.