China media: Hong Kong tourism

Hong Hong is well known as a tourist destination in mainland China
Image caption Hong Hong is popular tourist destination for mainland Chinese

Papers voice concern over Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung's plan to limit the number of mainland tourists.

Mr Leung said on Tuesday that he would discuss proposals to tighten the Individual Visit Scheme for mainland tourists with Beijing authorities, the Xinhua News Agency reports.

The scheme was launched in 2003, in the wake of an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) in Hong Kong, to boost the economy

Before the scheme was launched, mainland Chinese could visit Hong Kong only on business visas or in group tours.

Mr Leung said he understands that mainland tourism growth has put pressure on local people's livelihoods, says Xinhua.

Describing Mr Leung's proposal as an "understandable" one, the Global Times' Chinese edition, however, cautions against "politicising" the issue.

"It is necessary to put in place some control measures… however, it should not give mainlanders the impression that Hong Kong does not welcome them," adds the paper.

The daily also points out that the scheme has "contributed immensely" to Hong Kong's progress and prosperity.

Shi Wenjing, a financial auditor in Shanghai, tells the China Daily that the move "would create a gap between the mainland and Hong Kong".

"When the whole world is trying to attract mainland tourists to visit their countries by loosening visa requirements, it is ridiculous to hear that Hong Kong, which is part of our own country, is trying to push mainland visitors outside," he says.

Political agenda?

Meanwhile, papers in Hong Kong are worried that any reduction in the number of mainland tourists will affect the city's economy.

Michael Li Hon-shing, executive director of the Federation of Hotel Owners, observes that the bigger-spending mainland tourists already prefer to bypass Hong Kong.

"It's possible to buy luxury brands all over the world," he tells the South China Morning Post, adding the city needs to "look beyond retail to attract tourists".

Concerned that mainland tourists are turning away from Hong Kong, the Ming Pao daily suggests the government should have a "comprehensive plan" to boost tourism.

"Mr Leung's discussion with Beijing... does not solve the real problem. He should come up with a comprehensive plan including building more tourism facilities to cater to the needs of the mainland tourists," says the paper.

Some activists, however, feel Mr Leung has a "political agenda" by bringing up the topic at this time.

"Mr Leung is trying to appease the public by bringing up the proposal as he is seeking a second term in office," the Apple Daily quotes Leung Kam-shing, an activist, as saying.

'Insensitive' TV show

And finally, more than 1,000 netizens have signed a joint letter to China's media regulator to protest against "discriminatory" content on the China Central Television (CCTV)'s Spring Festival Gala programme, reports say.

The annual gala is one of the most popular TV programmes in China.

The Global Times notes that most of the netizens are women's rights activists who are unhappy with content that appeared to mock single women, short people, female civil servants and full-time mothers.

Noting that some critics and other netizens see the protest as "kicking up a fuss", the China Daily strongly defends the group's action and criticises the "undisguised discrimination" in the programme.

The sternly-worded commentary says the letter "should put our nation of 1.3 billion to shame" as it has brought up the issue that "has been ignored for far too long because of our collective insensitivity".

"Unpopular as they may be, the naysayers have brought up a topic that should not be swept under the carpet in a country that calls itself civilised, and which aspires to flaunt its soft power globally," argues the article.

Supporting the group's call, the daily then urges the authorities and the TV network to review the anti-discriminatory laws and do "serious soul searching".

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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