For information on exhibitions see CURRENT EXHIBITIONS
For information on future developments see WHAT'S PLANNED
For information on new attractions/developments see WHAT'S NEW
For information on new, future and renamed hotels see NEW AND FUTURE HOTELS
HERITAGE FIESTA 2017
Heritage Fiesta 2017 will be held from 1st October to 30th November 2017 under which 15 historic buildings related to Hong Kong’s law and order will be open to the public during specific opening hours.
The event is an opportunity for the public to appreciate these well-preserved historic buildings that have played a role in Hong Kong’s law and order, and allow the public to learn about their histories and architectural styles.
Admission to all participating historic buildings will be free of charge. Free guided tours will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Visitors will also be able to collect special stamps at the participating historic buildings during their journeys of heritage exploration at specific opening hours.
The participating buildings are;
Jao Tsung-I Academy
Law Ting Pong Scout Centre, New Territories East Region, Scout Association of Hong Kong
Man Mo Temple Compound
Ping Shan Tang Clan Gallery cum Heritage Trail Visitors Centre
Savannah College of Art and Design (Hong Kong)
South Wing of David Trench Rehabilitation Centre
Stewards High Rock Centre
Tai O Heritage Hotel
Tai Po District Junior Police Call Clubhouse
The Warehouse Teenage Club
Western Magistracy Building
Yamen Park Office and Exhibition Rooms, Kowloon Walled City Park
A pamphlet on Heritage Fiesta 2017 will be available at the featured historic buildings during the event period. It can also be obtained from Hong Kong Museum of History, Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre, Hong Kong Science Museum and Hong Kong Space Museum in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong Heritage Museum in Sha Tin, Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum in Mid-Levels, Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware in Central, the Museum of Coastal Defence in Shau Kei Wan, temples under the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals, visitor centres of the Hong Kong Tourism Board in Tsim Sha Tsui and at the Peak, as well as at Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok.
For further details see;
NGONG PING 360 CABLE CAR TEMPORARY CLOSURE
Ngong Ping 360 cable car operating between Tung Chung and Ngong Ping is to close for maintenance from 19th to 21st September 2017 inclusive. Normal service will resume on 22nd September.
During the closure period Ngong Ping Village, the "Big Buddha", Po Lin Monastery, Wisdom Path and other attractions at Ngong Ping remain open as usual. Visitors can take alternative transport between Tung Chung and Ngong Ping;
New Lantao Bus Company service 23, which takes about 50 minutes and departs from Tung Chung Temporary Bus Terminus, adjacent to the cable car terminal on Tat Tung Road. Additional services operate to meet demand;
or Lantau (blue) taxi fare approx HK$180, journey time about 35 mins.
OCEAN PARK THEATRES TEMPORARY CLOSURES
Ocean Park's Whiskers Theatre and its theatre shows are closed from 28th August to 5th November 2017 for maintenance work and the park's Ocean Theatre is closed from 1st September to 21st December 2017 for enhancement works.
During the closure period, dolphins and sea lions can be visited at the Marine Mammal Breeding and Research Centre or Pacific Pier.
NGONG PING 360 TICKET PRICE INCREASE
Ngong Ping 360 has announced price increases averaging about 12.3% in respect of the cable car service operating between Tung Chung and Ngong Ping effective from 1st September 2017.
An adult round trip ticket in a Standard Cabin will increase from HK$185 to HK$210 and in a Crystal Cabin from HK$255 to HK$290. A child round trip ticket in a Standard Cabin will increase from HK$95 to HK$100 and in a Crystal Cabin from HK$175 to HK$180. A senior round trip ticket in a Standard Cabin will increase from HK$130 to HK$140 and in a Crystal Cabin from HK$205 to HK$220.
An adult single trip ticket in a Standard Cabin will increase from HK$130 to HK$145 and in a Crystal Cabin from HK$180 to HK$200. A child single trip ticket in a Standard Cabin will increase from HK$65 to HK$70 and in a Crystal Cabin from HK$125 to HK$130. A senior single trip ticket in a Standard Cabin will increase from HK$90 to HK$95 and in a Crystal Cabin from HK$145 to HK$150.
Hong Kong residents can purchase tickets at current prices until 22nd December 2017 on site only at the Tung Chung and Ngong Ping cable car terminal ticket offices.
Ngong Ping 360 last increased its ticket prices on 1st January 2016 since which time, the company states, costs including cable car maintenance, procurement of components and staff salaries have increased significantly.
KING YIN LEI OPEN DAYS SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER 2017
Public open days at King Yin Lei will be held on four dates in September and October 2017. Members of the public can visit the declared monument free of charge to appreciate and learn about the architectural features and history of the famous Chinese Renaissance style house. King Yin Lei is located at 45 Stubbs Road, Wan Chai.
The open days will take place on Saturday and Sunday 23rd and 24th September and Saturday and Sunday 21st and 22nd October. Each open day will have four visit sessions:
9-30am to 11am
11am to 12-30pm
2pm to 3-30pm
3-30pm to 5pm.
A total of 14,400 admission tickets for these four public open days will be distributed at the following venues and times on a first-come, first-served basis on 2nd and 3td September (Saturday and Sunday). Each person can obtain a maximum of four tickets for one of the sessions.
* Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre, Kowloon Park, Haiphong Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon (from 10am to 6pm)
* Museum of Tea Ware, Hong Kong Park, 10 Cotton Tree Drive, Central, Hong Kong (from 10am to 5pm)
* Hong Kong Heritage Museum, 1 Man Lam Road, Sha Tin, New Territories (from 10am to 6pm)
The remaining tickets will be distributed at the Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre from 4th September. Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre is located in Kowloon Park and is open from Mondays to Fridays (except Thursdays) from 10am to 6pm, and on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from 10am to 7pm
Visitors on a previous open day exploring King Yin Lei, declared monument on Stubbs Road, which has provided the setting for several movies.
For more information regarding King Yin Lei see;
Visitors are advised to use public transport to access the venue as no parking facilities are available.
* New World First Bus route No. 15 (Central - The Peak)
* New World First Bus route No. 15B (Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre, Wanchai - The Peak) (only operates on Sundays and public holidays)
* Green minibus route No. 26 (Lee Garden Road, Causeway Bay - King Yin Lei)
MINIBUS SEATING CAPACITY INCREASE
With effect from 15th August 2017 all newly-registered green minibuses will have 19 seats, an increase of 3 seats over the existing capacity. The new minibuses manufactured by existing supplier, Toyota, will also have an extra half-step at the door, stop buttons at passenger level and seat handrails.
The government had earlier relaxed regulations for existing minibuses to allow operators to use their own discretion both to increase the number of seats by up to 3 with a maximum capacity of 19 and to decide implementation date for any increase. The first 19-seat minibuses were introduced into service on 9th August 2017 when 3 retrofitted long-base model green minibuses began operating on routes 101M Tsueng Kwan O - Sai Kung, 20C Tai Po Market Station - Tei Mei Tuk and 4M Shek Pai Wan - Wong Chuk Hang Station.
The seating capacity for green minibuses when first introduced when the trade became regulated in 1972 was 14 but was increased to 16 in 1988.
Three low-floor wheelchair accessible minibuses are being built by British manufacturer Optare, costing HK$1.5m each and are expected to operate on a trial basis on selected hospital routes later in 2017.
LANTAU LINK TWO-WAY TOLL COLLECTION
Two-way toll collection is to be implemented at the Lantau Link Main Toll Plaza and the Ma Wan Toll Plaza with effect from Sunday 20th August 2017.
The Lantau Link is currently the only vehicular road to Lantau. For the convenience of motorists and smoother traffic to the airport, a one-way toll collection arrangement has been in operation since 1997. Motorists are not required to pay the toll when driving through the Lantau Link towards the airport but they have to pay the toll for journeys to and fro at the Lantau Link Main Toll Plaza when returning to Kowloon. For Ma Wan, motorists have to pay the toll for journeys to and from at the Ma Wan Toll Plaza when entering Ma Wan but nothing when returning to Kowloon.
Upon the commissioning of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, the Lantau Link will no longer be the only vehicular road to Lantau, and changing the current one-way toll collection arrangement to a two-way system is necessary to prepare for the commissioning of the Bridge. Commencing from midnight on 20th August, two-way toll collection will be implemented at the Lantau Link (including entering and leaving Ma Wan) and motorists will have to pay the toll for every single trip.
For example, when leaving Lantau towards Kowloon via the Lantau Link, private car or taxi drivers currently have to pay a total of HK$30 at the Lantau Link Main Toll Plaza. Upon the implementation of the two-way toll collection arrangement on August 20, they will have to pay a toll of HK$15 for a single trip heading to the airport or Kowloon. However, there will not be any change to the amount of additional fare paid by taxi passengers whose journey involves the use of the Lantau Link.
Upon the implementation of the two-way toll collection arrangement on 20th August, two Autotoll lanes and four manual toll collection lanes will be operated at the Lantau Link Main Toll Plaza (airport bound). Five toll collection lanes, namely Nos. 13 to 17, will close until December to facilitate the installation of toll collection facilities and systems, and the related civil engineering works.
HONG KONG PULSE 3D LIGHT SHOW TO RETURN
The popular Hong Kong Pulse 3D Light Show, organised by Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), is to return for the "Hong Kong Summer Fun" and "Hong Kong WinterFest" events.
The show takes place at Hong Kong Cultural Centre's Open Piazza five times each evening at 8-20pm, 8-40pm, 9pm, 9-20pm and 9-40pm throughout "Hong Kong Summer Fun" from 11th August until 2nd September 2017 and "Hong Kong WinterFest" from 1st to 28th December 2017. Each show lasts about 8 minutes and admission is free.
Produced by Spinifex Group, a prestigious Australian overseas production team, the summer spectacle is created by laser beams projecting images on to the façade of Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Clock Tower and Open Piazza and is based on the theme of Hong Kong as a vibrant, cosmopolitan city and designed to showcase the city's pulsating summer vibe. The show features the diverse experiences in Hong Kong's summer a cheerful dragon as an "ambassador of fun" to take audiences through an array of unique experiences and encounter local delicacies in the form of colourful cartoon characters. The characters featured in the story namely the Dragon, the Rooster and the local delicacies including egg waffles, pineapple buns and dim sum jump off screen in the shape of light sculptures and giant floating creatures. The show also incorporates laser beams, bubbles and smoke effects. In addition there is an interactive “Wake Up the Dragon” game. The former Kowloon - Canton Railway Clock Tower will become a giant stepper where visitors can participate in a stepping competition on the spot, and compete to “wake up” the LED dragon in the pool with the colourful reactions of the flying dragon being projected on the Clock Tower.
Scene from a previous Pulse show during the 2016 Hong Kong WinterFest
Spinifex Group’s Head of Creative, Richard Lindsay, has over 20 years’ experience in the design industry and has been involved in numerous international creative media shows, including the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, in which he collaborated with famed Chinese film director Zhang Yimou; the 2010 Shanghai World Expo; the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics; and the 2013 edition of the Sydney Opera House light show in “Vivid Sydney”.
The show will feature a theme song, which will be played during the show at the venue and can also be heard by downloading the Hong Kong Pulse Sound Track app.
Hong Kong Pulse 3D Light Show made its first appearance during the CCB (Asia) Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival in October and November 2014 and also operated during HKTB's Hong Kong WinterFest in 2014, 2015 and 2016, Summer Fun 2015 and Chinese New Year 2016 events.
STAR FERRY FARE INCREASE
Fares on Star Ferry's two franchised ferry routes "Central - Tsim Sha Tsui" and "Wan Chau - Tsim Sha Tsui" increased by an average of 8.9% from 15th July 2017. Adult fares on both routes have been adjusted by 20 cents for Monday to Friday journeys and by 30 cents on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays;
Fares last increased in June 2012 but the company has suffered a loss of revenue in recent years, particularly on its Wan Chai - Tsim Sha Tsui route following the relocation of Wan Chai Ferry Pier. The company applied for phased increases of 17.5% in February 2017 with a further increase of 6.5% in February 2018 which would have resulted in a cumulative increase amounting to over 25% but the government found insufficient grounds to support that proposal. Star Ferry's current franchise expires at the end of March 2018 and its financial situation is expected to improve in the meantime and will be further assessed in the context of considering its franchise renewal.
ON-LOAN OCTOPUS CARD NEW TERMS
Octopus Cards Limited has announced new terms in respect of On-Loan Octopus Cards issued on or after 1st October 2017;
CONVENIENCE LIMIT - The Convenience Limit (ie the provision for negative value for a single occasion) for all On-Loan Octopus Cards will be increased to HK$50 from the current limit of HK$35. The revised limit does not apply to cards issued before 1st October 2017.
INACTIVE OCTOPUS ADMINISTRATIVE FEE - In respect of all Standard On-Loan Adult Octopus and all Personalised Octopus for customers age 18-59 without entitlement to fare concessions issued on or after 1st October 2017 an Inactive Octopus Administrative Fee of HK$15 will be deducted from any card that has not had any add-value or payment transaction for three years or more after that date. The first fee deduction will take effect from October 2020 and the fee will be deducted annually thereafter if the card remains inactive. The Inactive Octopus Administrative Fee is not applicable to On-Loan Child and Elder Octopus, Personalised Octopus for Persons with Disabilties and Students, Personalises On-Loan Octopus for customers age below 18 or over 60, Sold Octopus Card and new Octopus Cards issued under the On-Loan Octopus Replacement Programme.
NEW MACAU TAIPA FERRY TERMINAL OPENED
The new Macau Taipa Ferry Terminal opened on 1st June 2017 and from that date all ferries from Hong Kong operated by Cotai Water Jet and TurboJET which previously berthed at the adjacent Taipa Temporary Ferry Terminal will berth at the new terminal.
The new terminal, which cost an estimated 3.8 billion patacas, has 16 berths to accommodate ferries with a capacity of up to 400 passengers, 3 multi-purpose berths for vessels with up 1,200 passengers and a helipad. There are 127 immigration counters including 41 e-channels, 42 ticket counters, 36 luggage check-in desks and 1,000 car park spaces. The maximum daily passenger capacity is 400,000. 8 berths will be in use initially until such time as the final phase of construction has been completed and the temporary ferry terminal demolished.
Construction of the new terminal began in 2005 and was originally planned to have cost 580 million patacas and opened in 2007. However, the project has continually been expanded with the site area increasing from 50,000 square metres to 200,000 square metres.
In addition to Hong Kong routes the terminal has services to Shenzhen.
AIRPORT EXPRESS FARE INCREASE
MTR has announced fare increases for Airport Express journeys to take effect from 18th June 2017.
Revised fares for Single Journey/Same Day Return tickets (*discounted fares for Octopus Card users);
Airport - Hong Kong Station HK$115 Adult HK$57.5 Child
Airport - Kowloon Station HK$105 Adult HK$52.5 Child
Airport - Tsing Yi HK$70 Adult HK$35 Child
*Octopus Single Journey/Same Day Return Fares;
Airport - Hong Kong Station HK$110 Adult HK$55 Child
Airport - Kowloon Station HK$100 Adult HK$50 Child
Airport - Tsing Yi HK$65 Adult HK$32.5 Child
Round Trip Ticket (valid 30 days);
Airport - Hong Kong Station HK$205 Adult
Airport - Kowloon Station HK$185 Adult
Airport - Tsing Yi HK$120 Adult
Fares for Airport Express Group Tickets are unchanged;
Airport - Hong Kong Station;
Group of 2, HK$170
Group of 3, HK$230
Group of 4, HK$280
Airport - Kowloon Station
Group of 2, HK$150
Group of 3, HK$210
Group of 4, HK$250
Airport - Tsing Yi;
Group of 2, HK$100
Group of 3, HK$140
Group of 4, HK$170
The fare increases are the first since the Airport Express began operating in 1998.
Under a special summer promotion, for the period 18th June to 31st August 2017 children age 3-11 holding a valid Child Octopus Card can travel free on the Airport Express between the airport and Hong Kong, Kowloon Station and Tsing Yi Station or vice-versa and passengers age 65 and over holding a valid Elder Octopus Card will obtain a 50% discount on the adult fare.
NEW OPERATOR FOR THE HONG KONG OBSERVATION WHEEL
The Entertainment Corporation Limited has been awarded a three year short term tenancy (STT) for operation and management of the Hong Kong Observation Wheel at Central Harbourfront from September 2017 at a monthly rental of HK$1,500,000.
The Hong Kong Government is committed to make use of harbourfront sites for short-term use for public enjoyment while long-term development is pending. The Government's Development Bureau consulted the Harbourfront Commission's Task Force on Harbourfront Developments on Hong Kong Island and the Culture, Leisure and Social Affairs Committee of the Central and Western District Council in 2016 who agreed to support the proposal to continue the current short-term use through an open tender. Tenders were invited in November 2016 with tenderers required to include both a rental proposal and a technical proposal. The assessment criteria on the technical side included overall site design; plans for daily operation; management and promotion; ticket prices for adults, the elderly, persons with disabilities and children; and the community engagement programme. The open tender closed on December 30, 2016, and two tenders were received. The Entertainment Corporation Limited received the highest score in both rental and technical assessments.
The Hong Kong Observation Wheel opened in December 2014 and is 60-metres in diameter, with 42 gondolas including a glass-bottom VIP gondola. Each standard gondola can carry a maximum of 8 passengers and the VIP gondola carries a maximum 5 passengers. Since its opening the attraction has been managed and operated by Swiss AEX Holding Limited.which also operates the Asiatique Giant Sky Wheel in Bangkok.
TAXI FARE INCREASE
Taxi fares have been increased from Sunday 9th April 2017. For all taxis (Urban, New Territories and Lantau) the flagfall charge for the first 2km of any journey will increase by HK$2 and the first-tier and second-tier incremental charges in respect of each subsequent 200-metres travelled will increase by HK$0.1 and HK$0.2 respectively. Charges for waiting time after the initial flagfall will increase in line with the incremental first-tier and second-tier charges and the luggage charge per piece (except light luggage carried inside the passenger compartment) is increased by HK$1.
The revised fare structure is;
RED (URBAN) TAXIS;
HK$24 for the first 2kms then HK$1.7 each 200-metres until the fare reaches HK$83.5 (up to 9km), then HK$1.2 each 200-metres from HK$83.5 upwards (journeys over 9km).
Waiting time HK$1.7 per minute up to fare of HK$83.5 then HK$1.2 from HK$83.5 upwards
Luggage charge HK$6 per piece except light luggage carried inside the passenger compartment which is free
GREEN (NEW TERRITORIES) TAXIS
HK$20.5 for first 2kms then HK$1.5 each 200-metres until the fare reaches HK$65.5 (up to 8km), then HK$1.2 each 200-metres from HK$65.5 upwards.
Waiting time HK$1.5 per minute up to fare HK$65.5 then HK$1.2 from HK$65.5 upwards.
Luggage charge HK$6 per piece except light luggage carried inside the passenger compartment which is free.
BLUE (LANTAU) TAXIS
HK$19 for the first 2 kms then HK$1.5 each 200-metres until the fare reaches HK$154 (up to 20km), then HK$1.4 each 200-metres from HK$154 upwards (journeys over 20km).
Waiting time HK$1.5 per minute up to fare of HK$132 then HK$1.4 from HK$132 upwards.
The government has estimated that the average increase will be 9.98% for Urban taxis, 11.5% for New Territories taxis and 8.6% for Lantau taxis.
Until such time as individual taxi meters have been recalibrated the fare will be charged in accordance with a conversion table displayed in each taxi;
Taxi fares last increased in December 2013 and the increases which take effect on 9th April 2017 are lower than the taxi trade had requested. In its application for increases in April 2016 the taxi industry requested increases in flagfall of up to HK$4, increases in both first and second tier incremental charges of HK$0.2 and a reduction in the waiting time increment from 60 seconds to 45 seconds.
DISCOVERY BAY PLAZA BUS TERMINUS CLOSURE
Discovery Bay Bus Terminus, adjacent to Discovery Bay Ferry Pier and DB Plaza closed with effect from 25th February 2017. All bus stops and temporary bus terminus have been relocated along Discovery Bay Road. A new permanent bus terminus, which will accommodate 30% more bus bays and better cater for double-deck buses along with expanded shopping mall and roof garden, is expected to open in early 2019.
NEW CITYFLYER AIRPORT BUS ROUTE
Citybus is to introduce new Cityflyer route A20 with effect from 20th March 2017. The service will operate between Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) and Hung Hom Station via Lantau Link, Mei Foo, Cheung Sha Wan, Sham Shui Po, Mong Kok, Yau Ma Tei, Jordan and Tsim Sha Tsui. Service frequency is 60 mins with departures from HKIA from 11-00 until 24-00 and departing Hung Hom Station from 06-30 to 21-30. Adult single journey fare is HK$33. Passengers for Hong Kong Disneyland can make free interchange to route R8 at the Lantau Link Toll Plaza.
FOOD TRUCK PILOT SCHEME
The first batch of 11 food trucks under the Food Truck Pilot Scheme were launched on 2nd February 2017 and will commence business successively in eight tourist locations with the intent of providing diversified, creative and high-quality dishes to tourists and locals.
The eight locations are Hong Kong Disneyland, Ocean Park Hong Kong, Golden Bauhinia Square, Central Harbourfront Event Space, Wong Tai Sin Square, Art Square Tsim Sha Tsui, Salisbury Garden Tsim Sha Tsui and Energizing Kowloon East Venue 1 Kwun Tong.
The operators and their signature dishes are;
Chee Kei - Braised Pork Ribs Bento Box
Book Brothers - American-style BBQ meat in steamed bun
Ho Yuen Express - Super Grilled Squid
Princess Kitchen - Dragon Fruit Bowl
Table Seven X W. Burger - Sorrowful Burger
Hung Fook Tong's Food Truck - Soup with fish maw and dried scallops
Pineapple Canteen - Pineapple Bun with fresh cream and pineapple
Mein by Maureen - Maureen Lo Mein
Crunch Munch - BBQ Pork Crunch
Pat Chun Saucy Truck - Sakura Shrimp U mami Sauce Fried Rice
Ma Ma's Dumpling - House made dumplings
Trucks will operate in the locations on a biweekly rotation basis. Preparatory work of the second batch of food trucks is in progress and they are expected to commence business from February to early March.
A mobile app, "HK Food Truck", has been launched to assist locals and tourists alike to trace the whereabouts of the food trucks and learn more about them. The app is available for free download in Google Play and the Apple App Store.
The idea to introduce food trucks in Hong Kong was announced in the 2015-2016 Budget Speech. A two-stage selection mechanism was conducted to select 16 suitable operators. The first stage was the assessment of the food truck proposals from applicants. Assessment criteria include the food concept and menu, business and financial proposal and design of the vehicle etc. Among the criteria applicants had to meet were the requirements that trucks contain a food preparation area of 6sq m, 120 litre water tank and 180 litre waste water container. The second stage was a cook-off challenge at which the applicants will demonstrate their proposed signature dish. The assessment was carried out by a selection panel established by the Government comprising representatives from the relevant government departments and food truck operation venues, food experts, members of tourist industry and financial experts.
A total of 192 applications were received, of which 51 were shortlisted to participate in a Cook-off Challenge, held in July 2016, to select the 16 successful applicants awarded licences.
Hong Kong Tourism Board, Hong Kong Hotels Association and the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong are to help promote food trucks to tourists. Visitor signage with the food truck logo has been erected along the way to the eight operating locations to help guide the public and tourists.
Food Truck at Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai
FACIAL RECOGNITION E-CHANNELS TO BE LAUNCHED FOR AUTOMATED EXIT CLEARANCE FOR OVERSEAS VISITORS
New electronic channels are to be made available at Hong Kong's immigration control points for use by foreign visitors with electronic passports for automated exit clearance without the need to register to use the facility in advance. The system, which will be available to departing (but not arriving) passengers age 11 and over will use facial recognition to compare the image captured by the e-channel reader with the image stored in the chip of the e-passport.
The system is to be introduced first at Hong Kong International Airport, from April 2017 at the earliest, with the intention of roll-out to other border control points at later dates. It is estimated that about 30% of visitors will be able to use the new system at the airport and the average processing time for exit clearance per person will be reduced from 50 seconds to 20 seconds.
sky100 HONG KONG OBSERVATION DECK AMENDED OPENING HOURS
With effect from 1st February 2017 sky100 Hong Kong Observation Deck will operate new opening hours;
Sunday to Thursday 10-00 to 21-00 (last admission 20-30)
Fridays and Saturdays 10-00 to 22-30 (last admission 20-00)
HONG KONG DISNEYLAND IRON MAN ATTRACTION OPENED
Disney Parks' first Marvel-themed ride "Iron Man Experience" has opened at Hong Kong Disneyland on 11th January 2017. The attraction, which took three years to create by over 70 designers and engineers, features flight simulators, 3D projection and surround sound. The attraction is located in the Tomorrowland area of the park where visitors can experience a five minute fly-through ride on the 45-passenger Iron Wing over iconic local landmarks such as the Tsing Ma Bridge and through the streets of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong Disneyland recently announced a six-year HK$10.9 billion expansion plan which would include additional zones based on other Marvel movies, as well as Frozen and a transformation of the park's Sleeping Beauty Castle.
"OCEAN PARK EXPRESS" BUS SERVICE FROM ADMIRALTY DISCONTINUED
The Citybus "Ocean Park Express" frequent direct bus service 629 which has been operating between Admiralty (West) Bus Terminus and Ocean Park for over 30 years has been discontinued with effect from 11th January 2017 following the opening of Ocean Park MTR Station at the end of December 2016 (see below).
However, bus service 629 from Central Piers to Ocean Park via Exchange Square Bus Terminus and Admiralty (West) Bus Terminus continues to operate with five daily departures from Central Piers at 09-30, 10-00, 10-30, 11-00 and 11-30. However, there is no return service of service 629 from Ocean Park.
From 11th January 2017 bus route 629 to Ocean Park is reduced to five daily departures from Central Piers
Several alternative bus routes serving the Aberdeen Tunnel Toll Plaza, a short walk from Ocean Park Main Entrance, are available for passengers wishing to travel by bus to and from Ocean Park including routes 70, 75, 75 & 97 from Exchange Square and Admiralty (East).
MTR SOUTH ISLAND LINE OPENED
The MTR South Island Line (East) opened for service on Wednesday 28th December 2016. Completion was originally expected in 2015 but difficulties encountered with excavation works in the vicinity of Admiralty Station delayed the opening.
The line has been built at an estimated cost of HK$16.9 billion with about half the cost being met by the government. The 7km line runs from Admiralty Station to Ap Lei Chau via a tunnel to Nam Fung Road in Aberdeen then along a 2km elevated viaduct from Aberdeen Tunnel Toll Plaza via Wong Chuk Hang and across the Aberdeen Channel to Lei Tung Estate on Ap Lei Chau.
The line is a "medium-capacity" system capable of carrying up to 20,000 passengers per hour in each direction and will serve both residents of the south side of Hong Kong Island and tourists travelling from existing and future attractions. It is also hoped that the new line will help relieve congestion at the Aberdeen Tunnel by encouraging passengers to transfer from road to rail. The line is fully automated and operates with driverless trains. MTR has purchased ten 3-carriage trains for the line at a cost of HK$540 million from Changchun Railway Vehicles Company, a subsidiary of China CNR Corporation. Admiralty Station will be an interchange station with the Tsuen Wan Line for cross-harbour destinations and there will be four other stations on the line at Ocean Park, Wong Chuk Hang, Lei Tung Estate (Ap Lei Chau) and South Horizons (Ap Lei Chau). Trains will operate at about 3-minute frequency and journey times will take 12 minutes from South Horizons to Admiralty, 6 minutes from Ocean Park to Admiralty and 14 minutes from Ocean Park to Tsim Sha Tsui (with interchange at Admiralty). The line is expected to carry about 170,000 passengers a day.
Wong Chuk Hang, Lei Tung and South Horizons stations do not have customer service centres and "Mobile Service Mode" has been adopted at these stations. A mobile service team will rove around the stations to provide timely and proactive information for passengers. There will also be self-service information points for ticketing issues, purchase of single-journey tickets, adding value to Octopus Cards and contacting staff through a video conferencing facility. Information counters in the unpaid areas of these stations provide information on station facilities and MTR routes via tablets integrated into the counters.
To coincide with opening of the new line, New World First Bus route 78 (Wong Chuk Hang - Wah Kwai Estate) is extended to terminate at Wong Chuk Hang Station and Citybus route 48 (Sham Wan - Wah Fu North Circular) will include an additional stop at Wong Chuk Hang Station. New green minibus routes 4M (Shek Pai Wan Aberdeen Centre to Wong Chuk Hang Station), 5M (Grantham Hospital - Wong Chuk Hang Station) and 40M (Stanley Prison - Ocean Park) have been introduced and existing green minibus routes 69A (Cyberport - Wong Chuk Hang Circular), 59A (Shan Wan - Aberdeen Centre) and 29 (Ap Lei Chau Estate - Sham Wan) have additional stops at Wong Chuk Hang Station. A new red minibus service operating between Wah Fu Estate and Wong Chuk Hang Station has also been introduced. Citybus "Ocean Park Express" frequent bus service 629 operating between Admiralty (West) Bus Terminus and Ocean Park has been discontinued from 11th January 2017 although there are still five daily morning departures of route 629 from Central Piers via Exchange Square Bus Terminus and Admiralty (West) Bus Terminus to Ocean Park but no return service.
Ocean Park Station on the newly-opened South Island Line enables passengers to reach the popular theme park in six minutes from Admiralty Station and connects directly to the park's entry plaza
Under the Transport and Housing Development Bureau Rail Development Strategy 2014 recommendations have been made for a new line, South Island Line (West) which would link Wong Chuk Hang Station to the Island Line at Hong Kong University Station with new stations at Queen Mary Hospital, Cyberport, Wah Fu, Tin Wan and Aberdeen. If implemented it is anticipated the project would be completed by 2026.
HONG KONG OBSERVATORY TOURIST WEATHER INFORMATION WEBSITE LAUNCHED
Hong Kong Observatory has launched the "Hong Kong Weather Information for Tourists" website to provide detailed weather forecasts including hourly temperature forecasts, 3-hourly weather icons and the daily chance of rain for the coming nine days at major tourism sites in Hong Kong including theme parks, shopping areas, beaches, country parks, temples and outlying islands. The information is intended to help visitors better plan itineraries and enhance their travel experience in Hong Kong.
The website layout features a user-friendly design, allowing users to easily access weather information for various tourist attractions and provides links to Hong Kong Tourism Board's "Discover Hong Kong" website enabling users to obtain more detailed information on various tourist attractions. The website also adopts a responsive web design to provide a better browsing experience for mobile users.
HONG KONG DISNEYLAND ADMISSION PRICE INCREASE
Hong Kong Disneyland, which made an operating loss of HK$148 million for the last fiscal year, is increasing the price of admission tickets by about 9% with effect from 16th December 2016. The cost of a 1-Day adult ticket is increased from HK$539 to HK$589 and a child ticket from HK$385 to HK$419. A 2-Day adult ticket is increased from HK$739 to HK$759 and child ticket from HK$525 to HK$539. The price of tickets for seniors is unchanged at HK$100 for a 1-Day ticket and HK$170 for a 2-Day ticket. Hong Kong Residents can buy tickets at the old prices, valid for one visit on or before 16th March 2017.
NEW IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INDIAN NATIONALS
With effect from 23rd January 2017 new rules are being implemented by the Hong Kong Government's Immigration Department which require that Indian Nationals wishing to enter or transit via Hong Kong visa-free must complete online pre-arrival registration. Certain exemptions apply including those Indian Nationals who have successfully enrolled for e-Channel service for frequent visitors and Indian nationals in direct transit by air and not leaving the airport transit area. The online service for pre-arrival registration opens on 19th December 2016 and registration is free.
For full details see;
DIVERSION OF NORTH POINT TO KWUN TONG FERRY SERVICE AND TERMINATION OF KWUN TONG TO KAI TAK RUNWAY PARK PIER FERRY SERVICE
With effect from 3rd December 2016 the following service adjustments to the licensed ferry service between North Point and Kwun Tong, operated by Fortune Ferry Co Ltd have been implemented;
(1) two additional sailings between North Point and Kwun Tong via Kai Tak Runway Park Pier are provided on Mondays to Fridays (except public holidays). The existing schedule of service, which operates every 30 minutes between North Point and Kwun Tong is unchanged;
(2) the existing schedule of service on Saturdays (except public holidays) before 9am, which operates every 30 minutes is unchanged, and an additional special sailing both from North Point or Kwun Tong calls at Kai Tak Runway Park Pier;
(3) all sailings between North Point and Kwun Tong after 9am call at Kai Tak Runway Park Pier on Saturdays (except public holidays) and on Sundays and public holidays, the frequency is adjusted to an hour. On Sundays and public holidays, the first sailing from Kwun Tong is extended to 7-30 am., the last sailing from North Point is advanced to 7pm., while the last sailing from Kwun Tong is advanced to 7-30 pm.
The revised timetable can be viewed at this link;
The Kwun Tong to Kai Tak Runway Park Pier Saturday, Sunday and public holiday kaito service operated by Blue Sea Ferry Co Ltd has been terminated with effect from 3rd December 2016.
OCEAN PARK PRICE INCREASE
Ocean Park has announced an increase in admission prices to take effect from 1st January 2017. Revised adult prices will be HK$438 (currently HK$385) and child age 3-11 price will be HK$219 (currently HK$193). For local residents there will be a two month grace period and the new prices will not take effect until 1st March 2017.
Owing mainly to a decline in the number of Mainland China visitors to Hong Kong the park suffered a reduction in attendance of 18.8% to about 6 million for the fiscal year ended 30th June 2016 and against revenue of HK$1.614.8 million recorded a deficit of HK$241.1 million, the largest since 1987 when the park ceased to be a subsidiary of Hong Kong Jockey Club.
The park is optimistic that the opening of the MTR South Island Line and Ocean Park Station in late December 2016 will enable easier accessibility and boost visitor numbers as will future projects including the opening of two hotels and the development of Ocean Park Water World.
STAR FERRY DISNEYLAND AND TSING MA BRIDGE TOUR
Star Ferry has introduced a round-trip “Water Tour” from Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry Pier to Disneyland Resort Pier. The new tour, which began operating on 15th December 2016, utilises a completely renovated Star Ferry withdrawn from service in 2011 when the Wan Chai – Hung Hom route closed. Co-funded by the Pilot Green Transport Fund of the Environmental Protection Department, “World Star” has been given a new life and become Hong Kong’s first diesel-electric powered eco-ferry bringing about substantial reduction in emission and higher propulsion efficiency. The renovated ferry features a spacious air-conditioned central cabin and café with luxury seating, tables and outside viewing decks.
There are two daily sailings from Tsim Sha Tsui at 11-00 and 17-00 and from Disneyland Resort Pier at 11-45 and 17-45. Journey time on the outward journey from Tsim Sha Tsui is about 45 minutes and the return journey which allows passengers excellent views of the Tsing Ma Bridge, Stonecutter's Bridge and Container Port takes about 70 minutes. Promotional round-trip fare until 21st December 2016 is HK$160 for adults and HK$140 for child age 3-12, senior age 65 and over, persons with disabilities and persons making a group purchase for 10 persons or more. Tickets are sold on a “first come – first served” basis on the day of departure at the Star Ferry Harbour Tour Ticket Counter at Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry Pier Concourse. Payment by cash only in Hong Kong Dollars. No online booking facility is available. Ticket Counter is open from 10-30am to 8-45pm daily and tickets must be purchased at least 10 minutes before departure time. Ticket includes one snack and one drink. Passengers also have the option to purchase Round-trip plus One Day Disneyland Ticket or Round-trip plus Walt's Café Afternoon Tea/Lunch set packages.
“World Star” also operates a nightly "ICC Light Show and Symphony of Lights Harbour Cruise" departing Tsim Sha Tsui at 19-25, fare HK$220 adult, HK$200 concessions.
Star Ferry's newly renovated "World Star" features a luxurious interior as well as outside viewing decks for its round-trip cruises to the Tsing Ma Bridge
For further details see;
SILVERMINE BAY BEACH CLOSURE
Silvermine Bay Beach at Mui Wo on Lantau Island is to be temporarily closed from 21st November 2016 until mid-2018 for improvement works in connection with the Signature Project Scheme (Islands District). All facilities at the beach will be closed and lifeguard services suspended.
During the closure period visitors may use other beaches on Lantau Island including Pui O Beach, Upper Cheung Sha Beach, Lower Cheung Sha Beach and Tong Fuk Beach.
MTR KWUN TONG LINE EXTENSION OPENED
The HK$7.2 billion 2.6 km extension of the MTR Kwun Tong Line from its existing terminus at Yau Ma Tei to serve new stations at Ho Man Tin and Whampoa opened for service on Sunday 23rd October 2016. Whampoa Station is now the terminus station of the Kwun Tong Line.
The frequency of train service during peak periods for Ho Man Tin Station is approximately 2 minutes and for Whampoa Station approximately 4 minutes. Some trains terminate at Ho Man Tin Station. During weekday non-peak periods, the average train service frequency is 3 minutes for all Kwun Tong Line stations including Ho Man Tin and Whampoa. The journey time between Whampoa and Yau Ma Tei stations is approximately 5 minutes. Ho Man Tin Station, with 7-storeys, is the largest station on the network until the extension of Admiralty Station is completed when the Sha Tin to Central Link opens in 2021. Ho Man Tin Station will become an interchange station for the Sha Tin to Central Link. Owing to geographical constraints Whampoa Station is served by one single-sided platform.
Four new minibus routes serve the new stations: 8M (Ho Man Tin (Sheung Wo Street) – Ho Man Tin Station), 28MS (Kowloon City (Wyler Gardens) – Ho Man Tin Station), 2M (Whampoa Station – Kowloon City (Fuk Lo Tsun Road) and 26M (To Kwa Wan (Chi Kiang Street) – Whampoa Station). One minibus and one bus route have been cancelled and the frequency of 33 bus routes and 13 minibus routes reduced.
Construction of the Kwun Tong Line Extension commenced in mid-2011 and the new railway tunnel broke through in December 2014. Construction had to overcome various challenges, including complicated ground conditions and severe space
limitations in the densely populated area.
TAI O - TUNG CHUNG - TUEN MUN FERRY SERVICE ENHANCEMENTS
The Transport Department has announced the following service enhancements to the Tai O - Sha Lo Wan - Tung Chung - Tuen Mun ferry service operated by Fortune Ferry Company, effective from 24th September 2016;
(1) an additional regular sailing will be provided at 3-45 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from Tai O to Tuen Mun via Sha Lo Wan and Tung Chung
(2) subject to passenger demand, four special sailings at 3-00 pm, 4-30 pm, 6-10 pm and 6-30 pm will be provided on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from Tai O to Tung Chung via Sha Lo Wan and / or Tai O to Tuen Mun via
Sha Lo Wan and Tung Chung
(3) subject to passenger demand, two special sailings at 9-10 am and 11-10 am will be provided on Saturdays from Tuen Mun to Tai O via Tung Chung and Sha Lo Wan
(4) subject to passenger demand, three special sailings at 8-40 am, 10-40 am and 12-40 pm will be provided on Sundays and public holidays from Tuen Mun to Tai O via Tung Chung and Sha Lo Wan.
New Lantao Bus Company Ltd. will, subject to passenger demand, provide special departures of NLB route 37, named as NLB route 37S between 3-00 pm and 6-30 pm on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from Tung Chung Development Pier to MTR Tung Chung Station
NEW CROSS-BOUNDARY FERRY SERVICE TUEN MUN - ZHUHAI
TurboJET has introduced a new cross-boundary ferry route from Tuen Mun to Zhuhai Jiuzhou Harbour with effect from 16th September 2016. The service is operated in partnership with Zhuhai High-Speed Passenger Ferry Co Ltd and, initially, there will be just one daily sailing from Tuen Mun at 11-30am. Journey time is about 1 hour, 45 minutes and the service will make a brief stop at Hong Kong International Airport before continuing to Zhuhai;
FREE ADMISSION TO FEE-CHARGING MUSEUMS
With effect from 1st August 2016, five fee-charging museums operated by the Hong Kong Government's Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD), namely Hong Kong Museum of Art*, Hong Kong Museum of History, Hong Kong Heritage Museum, Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence and Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum will offer free admission to their permanent exhibitions.
From 1st August 2016 admission fees for the permanent exhibitions of Hong Kong Science Museum will be reduced by 20%. New standard admission fee will be HK$20 adult and HK$10 for seniors age 60 and over. Admission for full-time Hong Kong students will be free. **Full-time Hong Kong students will also be admitted free to the permanent exhibitions of Hong Kong Space Museum
Additionally, the price of annual museum passes will be reduced by 50% from 1st August 2016. The revised prices are HK$50 individual, HK$25 concessionary and HK$100 family.
The initiative is aimed at promoting the public's appreciation of art, culture, history and science and broadening the museum audience base.
* Hong Kong Museum of Art is currently closed for renovation and is expected to reopen in 2019
** The exhibition halls of Hong Kong Space Museum are currently closed for renovation until late 2016
CLOSURE OF REPULSE BAY VISUAL ART MUSEUM
Repulse Bay Visual Art Museum will be permanently closed with effect from 31st July 2016;
OUTLYING ISLAND FERRY FARE CONCESSIONS
During the period 2nd July 2016 until 31st December 2016 ferry operators New World First Ferry (NWFF) and Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry Holdings (HKKF) are offering reduced fares on Monday to Saturday services on outlying islands routes. The routes are NWFF's Central - Cheung Chau, Central - Mui Wo and Inter-Island (Cheung Chau - Chi Ma Wan - Mui Wo - Peng Chau) services and HKKF's Central - Yung Shue Wan, Central - Sok Wu Wan and Central - Peng Chau services.
The fare reductions range from HK$5.5 to HK$0.7 and the concessions are being made following a reduction in oil prices which has resulted in higher than expected profit margins for the ferry operators who receive government subsidies to enable a reasonable level of fares to be maintained.
AUTOMATED IMMIGRATION CLEARANCE FOR AUSTRALIANS
With effect from 20th June 2016, under a reciprocal arrangment with the Australian Government, Australian passport holders are able to enrol, free of charge, for automated e-Channel immigration clearance for entry to Hong Kong.
Enrolment offices are located in the secured arrivals area of Hong Kong International Airport behind the staffed immigration counters and at Macau Ferry Terminal in Sheung Wan or Immigration Headquarters in Wan Chai. The enrolment procedure includes submission of an enrolment form, collection of fingerprints and photo-taking.
Once enrolled, passport holders are able to use e-Channels for automated entry clearance at border control points at Hong Kong International Airport, Lo Wu, Lok Ma Chau, Lok Ma Chau Spur Line, Shau Tau Kok, Shenzhen Bay, Man Kam To, Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, Macau Ferry Terminal, China Ferry Terminal and Tuen Mun Ferry Terminal.
Similar arrangements already apply for passport holders of the Republic of Korea, Singapore and Germany.
For further information see;
HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT CONSTRUCTION FEE
An airport construction fee (ACF) will be collected on air tickets issued on or after 1st August 2016 to fund Hong Kong International Airport's three-runway system expansion.
Airlines will collect the ACF from departing passengers, including origin-destination and transit/transfer, at Hong Kong International Airport when air tickets are issued. Tickets issued before 1 August 2016 will not incur the ACF.
For full details of the fee charging structure see;
FORTUNE FERRY TUEN MUN - TUNG CHUNG - SHA LO WAN - TAI O SERVICE AMENDMENT
The following alterations to the Fortune Ferry Tuen Mun - Tung Chung - Sha Lo Wan - Tai O ferry service with effect from Monday 6th June 2016;
(i) the 4pm sailing from Tuen Mun to Tung Chung on Mondays to Fridays (except on public holidays) is advanced to 3pm and will continue to Tai O via Sha Lo Wan.
(ii) the 4-30pm sailing from Tung Chung to Tuen Mun on Mondays to Fridays (except on public holidays) is replaced by a sailing from Tai O at 4pm which will operate to Tuen Mun via Sha Lo Wan and Tung Chung
HONG KONG DISNEYLAND - "STAR WARS: TOMORROWLAND TAKEOVER"
Throughout the summer of 2016, commencing 11th June, Hong Kong Disneyland's Tomorrowland will feature "Star Wars: Tomorrowland Takeover" with special Star Wars themed experiences including "Hyperspace Mountain" enabling visitors to take a space mission to a desert planet featured in Star Wars: "The Force Awakens" which includes a dogfight between Imperial TIE fighters and Rebel X-Wing Starfighters and "Star Wars: Command Post" where visitors can meet some legendary Star Wars characters. There will also be special merchandise and food and beverage offers.
For full details see;
MTR FARE INCREASES AND FARE PROMOTIONS PACKAGES
MTR fares will rise by an overall 2.65% from Sunday 26th June 2016. The increase has been calculated in accordance with the government's Fare Adjustment Mechanism (FAM) and will see 78% of fares adjusted upwards by 30 cents or less, of which 4% will remain unchanged. No fare will increase by more than 50 cents. New fare charts can be downloaded from the MTR website and are available at all MTR station Customer Service Centres.
From 1st July 2016 all 32 MTR Octopus Fare Saver machines installed throughout Hong Kong will offer a HK$2 discount for the next trip at designated MTR stations. Currently 17 machines offer a $2 discount and 15 offer HK$1 discount.
The "10% Same-Day Second-Trip Discount" promotion which has previously operated at various periods between 2013 and 2015 will operate again for about four months from 26th June 2016 until 31st October 2016.
The existing "Early Bird Discount Promotion" will be extended for a further year to 31st May 2017 and both the "MTR City Saver" and "Monthly Pass Extra" promotions are being extended for one year to 30th June 2017. A HK$50 MTR Shops Cash Coupon will be given to all passengers who purchase any July or August "Monthly Pass Extra" in 2016 or any "MTR City Saver" during these two months.
A new fare promotion "Designated Saturday Offer" will operate on the first Saturday of each month for the five months from November 2016 to March 2017 and will allow Adult Octopus Card holders to travel at concessionary fares equal to Child Octopus fares and concessionary Octopus holders will be able to travel at a flat fare of HK$1 per journey (except Airport Express, MTR Feeder Bus, journeys to or from Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau stations and East Rail Line First Class travel).
NORTH POINT FERRY PIER BUS TERMINUS RELOCATION
With effect from Saturday 14th May 2016 the terminus of Citybus bus routes A11, 10, 41A, 85 and New World First Bus services 23, 38, 42, 42C, 63, 65, 82 and 682C is relocated to the new North Point Ferry Pier Public Transport Interchange located north of Java Road between Kam Hong Street and Tin Chiu Street.
HONG KONG HOUSE OF STORIES TEMPORARY RELOCATION
Owing to the Blue House Cluster Phase 2 Renovation work, the Hong Kong House of Stories, which closed on 7th March 2016, will reopen at a temporary location, 4 Hing Wan Street, Wan Chai on 15th April 2016. Hong Kong House of Stories will move back to the Blue House on completion of the renovation project which is expected in early 2017.
NEW TURBOJET TUEN MUN - MACAU FERRY ROUTE
TurboJET has commenced operating high speed passenger ferry services between Tuen Mun and Macau from 28th January 2016.
TurboJET's parent, Hongkong Macao Hydrofoil Company Limited (HMHCL), signed a tenancy agreement with the Hong Kong Government for Tuen Mun Ferry Terminal in November 2015 for a period of seven years. Under the agreement, HMHCL will occupy and use the Tuen Mun Ferry Terminal to provide cross-boundary passenger ferry services, operating a minimum of 14 round trips between Tuen Mun Ferry Terminal and Macau every week with the option to roll out further services to Mainland cities in the Pearl River Delta
Following the inaugural sailing on 28th January a schedule of four sailings each way daily operates from 29th January and, from 1st March, seven each way daily sailings will operate. Sailing time for the journey is about 40 minutes and for passengers travelling to Hong Kong International Airport TurboJET provides a land transfer service which takes 30 minutes and costs HK$75 for an initial promotional period before the regular price of HK$100 takes effect;
HMHCL has taken over management of Tuen Mun Ferry Pier and a terminal service charge of HK$28 is added to the cost of each ticket.
The Tuen Mun Ferry Terminal Control Point resumed operation on 28th January, with opening hours of 7am to 10pm. There will be four conventional immigration counters and three e-Channels in both the arrival and departure halls. An automated self-enrolment kiosk is also available to allow eligible Hong Kong residents to enrol for the Automated Passenger Clearance System (e-Channel) in Macau. Reciprocally, eligible Macau residents will also be able to enrol for the e-Channel service in Hong Kong in the enrolment office of the control point.
A new service between Tuen Mun and Shenzhen Airport, with three each-way sailings, two of which are via Skypier at Hong Kong International Airport, has also commenced.
Ferry services between Tuen Mun and Macau were previously operated by Hong Kong North West Express (HKNWE) from April 2011 until July 2012 when the service was terminated following repossession of the terminal by the Government owing to unpaid rent.
TurboJET high-speed catamaran at Tuen Mun Ferry Pier awaiting departure for Macau
HONG KONG TRAMWAYS LAUNCHES OPEN-TOP TRAM SIGHTSEEING TOURS
Hong Kong Tramways is to launch its "TramOramic Tour" sightseeing tour on 24th January 2016. The one-hour tour in a 1920's-style open top tram offers two routes, Western Market Tram Terminus to Causeway Bay Tram Terminus via Happy Valley or, in the opposite direction, Causeway Bay Tram Terminus to Western Market Tram Terminus via Happy Valley. The tour operates daily with departures from Western Market at 10-30am, 2-30pm and 6-30pm and from Causeway Bay at 11-30am, 3-35pm and 7-45pm.
The tour includes an audio guide in eight languages, on-board picture gallery, video comparing past and present Hong Kong, heritage corner and a complimentary Thematic Journeys map. The tram has a capacity of 36 passengers plus tram captain and tram attendant dressed in costume. Fare is HK$95 for adults, HK$65 child (4-12) and HK$65 for Hong Kong senior citizens 65 and over (on board only on production of Hong Kong ID). Tickets can be purchased online or on board and also include 2 days unlimited rides on Hong Kong Tramways regular services. For further details and online booking see;
Hong Kong's trams, affectionately known locally as "ding ding" trams, a reference to the bell used to warn pedestrians and traffic of their approach, have been operating since 1904. The current fleet of 163 double-deck trams operates regular scheduled services along six routes on the northern side of Hong Kong Island and carries about 180,000 passengers daily.
Officials and guests at the launch ceremony of Hong Kong Tramways "TramOramic Tour" on 15th January 2016 include (top deck left to right), Dr Peter Lam Kin-ngok, Chairman of Hong Kong Tourism Board, Gregory So Kam-leung, Secretary for Economic Development, Emmanuel Vivant, Managing Director Hong Kong Tramways, Mrs. Ingrid Yeung Ho Poi-yan, Commissioner for
Transport and Ms. Cathy Chu Man-ling, Commissioner for Tourism
FINAL STAGE OF REDUCTION OF FRONTIER CLOSED AREA IMPLEMENTED
The final stage of the reduction of the Frontier Closed Area (FCA) between Hong Kong and Shenzhen is to be implemented on Monday 4th January 2016.
This stage of FCA reduction covers the area near the boundary between River Indus (Ng Tung River) and Lin Ma Hang. More than 900 hectares of land is being released from the FCA. Local residents and other members of the public will no longer require a Closed Area Permit to enter the released area. Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Control Point, the Lok Ma Chau Boundary Control Point , MTR Lo Wu Station, Lo Wu Control Point and Man Kam To Control Point will remain in the FCA after the reduction. Only boundary-crossing passengers using specified modes of transport or holders of Closed Area Permits are permitted to enter the relevant areas.
The remaining FCA will only cover the Police's boundary patrol road and the limited land to its north, the boundary control points, Sha Tau Kok Town, Starling Inlet and parts of Mai Po, covering only about 400 hectares, a substantive reduction compared with the original 2,800 hectares. The famous Chung Ying Street in Shau Tau Kok town, which has one side in Hong Kong and the other in Shenzhen, will remain closed for security reasons. From 4th January 2016, the closed road restriction for vehicles within the released area will also be lifted. Vehicles will be free to use the roads in the area, but will have to follow other traffic instructions and restrictions. The Police will monitor the traffic situation closely, increase patrols along the main roads in the area, and implement traffic contingency measures if necessary.
Following a wide consultation exercise, the Government announced in 2008 the plan to reduce the coverage of the FCA in three stages. The first stages of the FCA reduction was implemented in February 2012 when two sections of the closed border frontier area covering over 740 hectares, including the Mai Po wetlands and six villages around Shau Tau Kok were opened up to the public. In June 2013 an area of 710 hectares of land including six villages between the Lok Ma Chau border crossing and Ng Tung River were opened under the second stage. The villages are Liu Pok, Lutheran New Village, Lok Ma Chau, Tak Yuet Lau, Ha Wan and Ma Tso Lung.
A wall of modern buildings in the Luohu district of Shenzhen provide the backdrop to the agricultural landscape and fish ponds of the opened up border area near Lutheran New Village
The restricted zone was established by the British colonial government in 1951 as a barrier to people fleeing mainland China following the Communist Party gaining power, and entry to the closed zone has been restricted to permit holders. The government green plan for the area, announced in May 2008, envisages cycling routes between Lok Ma Chau and Lo Wu to enable people to enjoy the natural and rural landscape, fishponds and wetlands. A country park is to be built in Robin's Nest between Pat Sin Leng Country Park in Hong Kong and Wutongshan National Forest Park in Shenzhen. Hiking trails have also been proposed between Cheung Shan Monastery and Lin Ma Hang and between Lok Ma Chau to Hoo Hok Wai. There are some 300 heritage sites in the area and the government is proposing to create trails to link some of these sites. Only one small plot of land at Kong Nga Po near Man Kam To is being reserved for for residential development and this and this will be a small community with green architecture built with energy saving materials.
OCEAN PARK PRICE INCREASE
Ocean Park Hong Kong has announced an increase in admission prices with effect from 1st January 2016. The revised price of an adult day ticket will be HK$385 (increased from HK$345) and a child (3-11) day ticket will be HK$193 (increased from HK$173).
Admission for child under 3 and for Hong Kong senior citizens 65 and over will continue to be free.
Hong Kong residents can continue to purchase tickets at current prices until 29th February 2016.
The cost of the Ocean Park SmartFun Annual Pass will remain unchanged.
Ocean Park is currently undertaking a number of development projects, including the Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriott Hotel, the new Water World, the installation of a park-wide Wi-Fi network, and the redevelopment of the existing kid’s zone Whiskers Harbour.
NGONG PING 360 PRICE INCREASE AND INTRODUCTION OF NEW FUN PASS
Ngong Ping 360 has announced price increases for standard cable car cabins with effect from 1st January 2016.
Round-trip tickets for Standard Cabins will cost HK$185 adult (currently HK$165), HK$95 child (HK$85) and HK$130 senior (HK$115). Single-trip tickets for Standard Cabins will cost HK$130 adult (HK$115), HK$65 child (HK$60) and HK$90 senior (HK$80).
Hong Kong residents can purchase tickets at existing prices on-site at Tung Chung and Ngong Ping Cable Car Terminals until 30th April 2016 (except during Chinese New Year 8th to 10th February).
Ticket prices for Crystal Cabins are unchanged and the cost of an Annual Pass also remains unchanged at HK$450.
Ngong Ping 360 is introducing a new 360 Fun Pass from 1st January 2016 which includes round trip cable car ticket with admission to all attractions at Ngong Ping Village, including Stage 360, Motion 360 and Walking with Buddha (and, until 31st January 2016, includes a visit to the Ip Man Experience Hall). Prices for the 360 Fun Pass are Adult HK$ 255 (Standard Cabin) HK$325 (Crystal Cabin) Child HK$170 (Standard Cabin) HK$245 (Crystal Cabin) Senior HK$200 (Standard Cabin) HK$275 (Crystal Cabin). The prices represent about 40% discount from the cost of purchasing cable car tickets and attraction tickets separately.
OCTOPUS CARD TOP UP WITH CHANGE SERVICE
With effect from 7th December 2015 a Top Up with Change service has been introduced at all 759 Store retail outlets in Hong Kong. Customers paying for purchases with cash can top up their Octopus Card with the change by placing the card over the Octopus reader and requesting the top up with change. 759 Store had 270 retail outlets in Hong Kong at commencement of the service.
HONG KONG DISNEYLAND TICKET PRICE INCREASE
Hong Kong Disneyland has increased admission ticket prices by about 8% with effect from 11th November 2015.
Revised 1-Day ticket prices are;
Revised 2-Day ticket prices are;
However, Hong Kong residents, travel agents and wholesalers will be able to purchase tickets at the old prices until 10th January 2016.
THREE HISTORIC BUILDINGS DECLARED MONUMENTS
Three historic buildings, the Signal Tower at Blackhead Point, Tsim Sha Tsui; the Race Course Fire Memorial at So Kon Po; and the façade of the Old Mental Hospital at Sai Ying Pun have been declared monuments by the Hong Kong Governmemt's Antiquities Authority on 23rd October 2015. For more information see WHAT'S NEW
The facade of the Old Mental Hospital facing High Street at Sai Ying Pun
NEW CITYBUS "CITYFLYER" AIRPORT BUS SERVICE
With effect from Sunday 27th September 2015 a new Citybus "Cityflyer" airport bus route will be introduced. Service A29P will operate daily from the airport to Tsueng Kwan O Station, hourly at 15 minutes past the hour from 11-15 until 00-15, via the Lantau Link, Lok Fu, Wong Tai Sin, Diamond Hill, Choi Hung, Sau Mau Ping and Po Lam. Departures from Tsueng Kwan O Station are at 05-10, 07-10, 09-50 then hourly at 50 minutes past the hour until 20-50. Adult fare is HK$42. The route will serve Holiday Inn Express Kowloon East and Crowne Plaza Kowloon East hotels which are located above Tseung Kwan O Station.
AVENUE OF STARS CLOSURE
The Avenue of Stars, one of Hong Kong's most popular tourist attractions, is to close for redevelopment from 8th October 2015 until the the third quarter of 2018. In August 2015 conditional approval was granted to allow New World Development to extend the Avenue of Stars by 500-metres eastwards along Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade towards Hung Hom. The proposed project includes a film gallery, dining hub and performance venue. Although the existing avenue is being redeveloped a public consultation is to take place in two phases between late 2015 and early 2016 regarding the proposed extension and updated facilities. Under the original plans the 500-metre section of Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade to be redeveloped would have been closed from early 2016 until early 2018, however, following public consultations a revised plan for the extension of the Avenue of Stars on a much reduced scale was announced in February 2016 and the promenade will now close for about one year instead of two. However, the existing Avenue of Stars will still be closed until the third quarter of 2018 and Salisbury Garden will be closed from early 2016 until early 2017.
During its closure some features of the Avenue of Stars will be relocated. From 15th November 2015 Tsim Sha Tsui East Waterfront Podium Garden will become a temporary "Garden of Stars" featuring up to 20 Star handprints, Avenue of Stars sculptures, and paintings showing classic movie scenes and "Star Cinema" photos, whilst the pedestrian subway under Salisbury Road from East Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station will become "Starry Gallery" featuring star photos, movie names, paintings showing classic movie scenes, star imprints and movie posters.
New World provided HK$40 million finance for the Avenue of Stars which opened in 2004 and have since managed the tourist attraction under a 20-year contract which is being replaced by a new 20-year management contract running until 2035.
Popular tourist attraction The Avenue of Stars is closed until late 2018
HONG KONG SPACE MUSEUM TEMPORARY CLOSURE
Both exhibition halls in the Hong Kong Space Museum will be closed from 5th October 2015 for renovation work and the replacement of exhibits, and are expected to re-open at the end of 2016. The renovation work will also affect the rest of the museum, including the Stanley Ho Space Theatre and the Lecture Hall, leading to the complete closure of the museum from 1st November 2015 to 1st March 2016.
The exhibition halls being renovated are the Hall of Space Science and the Hall of Astronomy, with a total area of 1,600 square metres. All existing exhibits will be dismantled and replaced by about 100 sets of new exhibits, of which about 70 per cent will be interactive, to offer visitors a simulated experience of travelling through space and time.
Offering a new and more immersive environment, the new exhibition halls will be renamed as the Hall of the Cosmos and the Hall of Space Exploration. With interesting and interactive exhibits and advanced equipment, as well as new lighting and environmental decorations, the halls will introduce visitors to astronomy and space technology including the evolution of the universe, the solar system and space exploration.
The Hall of the Cosmos, which will be on the ground floor, will focus on the universe "from near to far", where visitors will be able to venture into a dimmed and mysterious simulated space environment. Exhibits will include "Moon Jump", "Big Bang Theatre" and "Gravity Surfing". The Hall of Space Exploration, which will be on the first floor, will centre around themes of space exploration and technology. Contents will include "Disorientation in Space", "Fire a Rocket" and "Space Training", enabling visitors to experience space through a simulated futuristic and surreal environment.
Hong Kong Space Museum opened in 1980 and its two permanent exhibition halls were renovated in 1991. During the closure of the exhibition halls, temporary exhibitions and fun astronomy demonstrations will be organised in the museum foyer.
COURT OF FINAL APPEAL RELOCATION TO OLD SUPREME COURT BUILDING
Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal was relocated from its existing premises in the Former French Mission Building on Battery Path to the historic Old Supreme Court Building at 8 Jackson Road on 7th September 2015. The Old Supreme Court Building, which is a declared monument, was vacated by the Legislative Council in 2011 and has since undergone extensive internal renovation. The building houses two courtrooms, a Registry, a lawyer's common room and robing rooms, four consultation rooms and a press room. There are also chambers for CFA judges and office facilities for support staff. The three-storey granite building, constructed between 1900 and 1912, is neo-classical in style supported by tall Ionic columns. The most prominent feature of the building is the pediment in the centre portion which is surmounted by a blind-folded statue of Justice, represented by the Greek goddess Themis. An exhibition gallery is expected to open in the near future and guided tours of the building will be offered.
The Old Supreme Court Building, vacated by the Legislative Council in 2011, is the new home of the Court of Final Appeal
The old Court of Final Appeal Building (the Former French Mission Building) on Battery Path is to become a legal hub with space being rented out to law-related organisations.
For more information see WHAT'S NEW
ADJUSTMENT TO BUS ROUTE 15B (Sunday and public holiday service) SERVING THE PEAK
With effect from Sunday 16th August 2015 the route of New World First Bus service 15B to/from The Peak, will be extended to Wan Chai (Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre). The service operates on Sundays and public holidays only, every 20 minutes between 12-00 and 19-00 from Wan Chai via Causeway Bay and every 20 minutes between 12-40 and 19-40 from The Peak.
NEW ABERDEEN - CHEUNG CHAU FERRY SERVICE TO BEGIN OPERATING
With effect from Saturday 8th August 2015 a new daily ferry service will begin operating between Aberdeen Pier at Aberdeen Promenade and Cheung Chau Public Pier. The service, operated by Maris Ferry Service Limited, will have seven each way sailings on weekdays and twelve each way sailings on weekends and public holidays. Fare is HK$30 on weekdays and HK$32 on weekends and public holidays (child under 3 free). The journey time is 55/65 minutes;
With effect from 24th December 2016 a revised timetable is in operation which includes an additional daily sailing on weekdays from both Aberdeen and Cheung Chau;
RAMADA HONG KONG HOTEL TO BE RENAMED
Ramada Hong Kong Hotel is to be renamed "BEST WESTERN PLUS Hotel Hong Kong" with effect from 1st September 2015. The hotel will be the first in Hong Kong carrying the “PLUS” brand, a superior brand of the Best Western Hotel Group. The management and workforce of the hotel will remain unchanged.
CITYBUS AND LONG WIN INTRODUCE EXPRESS AIRPORT NIGHT BUS SERVICES
With effect from 23rd July 2015 Citybus is introducing two new express "Cityflyer" night services (avoiding Tung Chung);
NA21 Citybus service to Tai Kok Tsui (The Long Beach, Hoi Fai Road near Olympic Station) via Mong Kok (Sai Yeung Choi Street South & Mong Kok Market, Argyle Street), and Cherry Street to Hoi Fai Road. Departs Airport Ground Transportation Centre 00-45, 01-25, 02-15 and 02-45. Fare HK$37.5 (HK$29 for eligible airport staff using "Personalised Airport Staff Octopus Card", HK$25 special airport staff promotional fare until 22nd October 2015).
NA29 Citybus service to/from Tseung Kwan O (Po Lam) via Wong Tai Sin, Diamond Hill, Kowloon Bay, Kwun Tong and Hang Hau. Departs Airport Ground Transportation Centre 01-10. Departs Tseung Kwan O (Po Lam) 04-15. Fare HK52 full journey but some intermediate sectional fares available. Special fare for eligible airport staff using "Personalised Airport Staff Octopus Card", HK$35.
Long Win Bus is introducing two express Airbus routes from 23rd July 2015;
NA33 Airbus service to Tuen Mun (Fu Tai) via Yuen Long from the Airport Ground Transporatation Centre at 12-50am,1-40am and 2-10am. Fare HK$40. Special fare for eligible airport staff using "Personalised Airport Staff Octopus Card" HK$25.
NA34 Airbus service to Tin Shui Wai Town Centre from the Airport Ground Transportation Centre at 12-50am, 1-40am and 2-10am. Fare HK$40. Special fare for airport staff using "Personalised Airport Staff Octopus Card" HK$25.
The services are being introduced as part of the 2015/16 Route Development Programme following requests from airport workers for faster night services.
HONG KONG MUSEUM OF ART TO CLOSE FOR MAJOR RENOVATION
Hong Kong Museum of Art is close from 3rd August 2015 until 2019 to allow for major renovation work to increase exhibition space and upgrade facilities. The work will cost about HK$930 million and includes raising the height of the gallery ceilings to allow for taller exhibits. Exhibition space is being increased from 7,000 square metres to about 10,000 square metres and the exterior of the building will be given a more distinctive appearance.
The museum, which first opened in 1991 is holding a commemorative event "See U MA" Photo Campaign from 30th June until 2nd August 2015 to encourage visitors to take photos of people, activities and exhibits in the Museum of Art or in the Art Square at Salisbury Garden and upload them onto Instagram. In addition, admission ticket holders and museum pass holders visiting the museum from 27th June until 2nd August will each receive a souvenir while stocks last. Visitors purchasing museum publications in the museum book shop will receive a 15% discount and, on selected items, receive a discount of up to 70%.
For further information see;
MTR FARES TO RISE ON 21st JUNE 2015
MTR Corporation has announced that in accordance with the Fare Adjustment Mechanism agreed with the government, which combines the consumer price index and transport wage rises, an overall fare adjustment of +4.3% will be applied from 21st June 2015. Fares for 41% of all passenger journeys will rise by 10 or 20 cents, for 25.4% of all passenger journeys the increase will be 30 or 40 cents, 11.9% of journeys will increase by 50 cents and 19.2 % by over 50 cents. 2.5% of fares will remain unchanged.
MTR fares increased by an average of 3.6% in 2014, 2.7% in 2013 and 5.4% in 2012.
MTR will offer a package of promotions during 2015/16 including a "10% Same-Day Second-Trip Octopus Discount" which will run from 21st June to 30th November 2015 and "MTR Festive Discount" which will operate on six designated days during Christmas 2015, Lunar New Year 2016 and Easter 2016 when Adult Octopus Card holders will be able to travel at Child Octopus concessionary fares. Other concessionary Octopus Card holders will pay a flat fare of HK$1 per journey on these days but the promotion excludes Airport Express, journeys commencing or terminating at Lo Wu or Lok Ma Chau Station, first-class travel on East Rail Line and MTR Feeder Bus journeys.
Other promotions include a one year extension of the "MTR City Saver" which was introduced in June 2014 and is aimed at frequent travellers taking medium and long distance cross-harbour journeys and a one year extension of the "Early Bird Discount Promotion" introduced in September 2014 which encourages passengers to use the MTR outside the morning peak period by offering a 25% discount to Adult Octopus Card holders when exiting from 29 core urban stations between 7-15am and 8-15am on Monday to Friday (except during holidays).
Fares for cross-border InterCity Through Train services to Guangdong will increase by between HK$10 and HK$20 with effect from 15th July 2015.
RELOCATION OF TUNG CHUNG NEW LANTAO BUS AND DISCOVERY BAY BUS SERVICE TERMINUS
Owing to construction works in connection with the extension of Citygate, with effect from 4th May 2015 the Tung Chung terminus for New`Lantao Bus Company routes 3M, 3R, 11, 11A, 23, 34, 36, A35 and N35 and for Discovery Bay Transit Services route DB01R has been relocated to Tung Chung Temporary Bus Terminus, adjacent to the Ngong Ping 360 cable car terminus on Tat Tung Road. An additional stop for Discovery Bay service DB01R has also been provided outside exit D of Tung Chung Station.
SAI YING PUN STATION OPENED
Sai Ying Pun Station on the MTR West Island Line opened on 29th March 2015, except for entrance/exit B3 on Ki Ling Lane/Des Voeux Road West which is still under construction and not expected to open until December 2015. The 3km West Island Line opened on 28th December 2014 and is an extension of the existing Island Line from Sheung Wan to Kennedy Town with intermediate stations at HKU (Hong Kong University) and Sai Ying Pun. The opening of Sai Ying Pun Station was delayed owing to construction difficulties. Since its opening, the new line has been carrying about 100,000 passengers daily.
PLASTIC SHOPPING BAG CHARGE TO BE EXTENDED FROM 1st APRIL 2015
From 1st April 2015 all retailers in Hong Kong, irrespective of scale of operation and business nature, will have to charge customers not less than 50 cents for each Plastic Shopping Bag (PSB) provided in retail sales of goods, except for situations where there is exemption. The PSB charge will be retained by the shops.
Under the Product Eco-responsibility (Amendment) Ordinance 2014 (Amendment Ordinance), PSBs used for food hygiene reasons, such as containing a food item which is unpackaged or contained in non-airtight packaging or in frozen/chilled state, can be exempted from the PSB charge. PSBs used for the pre-packaging of goods will also be exempted, while bags provided with services fall outside the scope of regulation.
Plastic Shopping Bag charging was first implemented in July 2009 but the scope was limited to about 3,500 chain or large outlets, mostly supermarkets, convenience stores, personal health and beauty stores, and drug stores.
Publicity materials at the airport and other boundary control points aims to keep visitors informed of the new measure.
For full details of the scheme see;
PLOVER COVE COUNTRY PARK VISITOR CENTRE TO CEASE OPERATION
Plover Cove Country Park Visitor Centre on Bride's Pool Road at Tai Mei Tuk will cease operation from 16th February 2015. Information leaflets and brochures will continue be available outside the centre.
HONG KONG LICENSED HOTELS AND GUESTHOUSES APP LAUNCHED
To assist tourists search for the latest details and locations of licensed hotels, guesthouses, holiday flats and holiday camps anytime and anywhere for a safe stay in Hong Kong, the Home Affairs Department of the Hong Kong Government launched a mobile application "Hong Kong Licensed Hotels and Guesthouses" on 10th February 2015. Users can search for all hotels and guesthouses or by district or by name.
Tourists and members of the public can also report suspected unlicensed guesthouses to the Office of Licensing Authority through the mobile application. "Hong Kong Licensed Hotels and Guesthouses" app can be found by searching the Apple App Store or on Google Play.
The "Hong Kong Licensed Hotels and Guesthouses" app details every licensed hotel and guesthouse in Hong Kong
MTR WEST ISLAND LINE OPENED
MTR West Island Line services began operating at 6am on 28th December 2014. The new 3km line extends the existing Island Line from Sheung Wan to Kennedy Town with intermediate stations at HKU (Hong Kong University) and Sai Ying Pun. However, owing to construction difficulties affecting two station exits, Sai Ying Pun Station will not open until March 2015 and the Ki Ling Lane exit is not expected to open until the end of 2015. Trains will stop at Sai Ying Pun Station for about ten seconds but doors will not open. HKU Station is the largest and deepest station on the MTR network, being 70-metres below surface with a length of 250-metres and width of 22-metres. Special emergency refuge areas are incorporated into the station to enable passengers to take lifts to the surface. Journey time is 5 minutes from Sheung Wan to HKU and 7 minutes from Sheung Wan to Kennedy Town. During the first two weeks of operation the line has attracted a daily patronage of about 100,000 passengers.
To tie in with the extension of Island Line to Western District, a new feeder bus service, Citybus (CTB) 43M (Tin Wan - Shek Tong Tsui (Hill Road)) has been introduced from 28th December plying between Tin Wan, Wah Kwai, Wah Fu, Victoria Road and Kennedy Town Station/HKU Stations for use by passengers living in areas relatively far away from the new MTR stations. The new feeder bus route has replaced Citybus service M47 (Wah Fu - Central (Hong Kong Station) which has ceased operation.
Three new green minibus railway feeder routes connecting Southern District and Kennedy Town Station (Hau Wo Street) have also been introduced from 28th December. Route 23M circular service operates via Pokfield Road, Pok Fu Lam Road (Queen Mary Hospital) and Chi Fu. Route 54M circular service operates via Victoria Road, Mount Davis Road, Pok Fu Lam Road and Queen Mary Hospital and route 58M operates to Bel-Air on the Peak via Victoria Road and Cyberport.
FOUR LOCAL HERITAGE ITEMS ADDED TO NATIONAL LIST OF INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE
Four intangible cultural heritage (ICH) items from Hong Kong have been successfully inscribed onto the fourth national list of ICH. They are the Hang Hau Hakka Unicorn Dance, Wong Tai Sin Belief and Customs, Quanzhen Temples Taoist Ritual Music and the Arts of the Guqin. The list was announced by the State Council earlier.
At the invitation of the Ministry of Culture in September 2013 on application for inscription onto the national list of ICH, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government submitted the application prior to the deadline in November last year after consulting the views of the experts of the ICH Advisory Committee.
The four successfully inscribed items are in the categories of "performing arts", "social practices, rituals and festive events" and "traditional craftsmanship" defined by the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage promulgated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. With outstanding historical and cultural value, these four items are representative of their kind.
Details of the four items are as follows:
(1) Hang Hau Hakka Unicorn Dance
The activity has been practised for more than 200 years. The Hakka people believe the Chinese unicorn, the qilin, is an auspicious animal that can ward off evil and bring good luck. So, on all celebratory occasions such as Chinese New Year, weddings, birthday parties, the inauguration of an ancestral hall, moving into a new home, welcoming guests, the Jiao festival and birthdays of deities, there would invariably be a unicorn dance. Since the Hakka people brought the unicorn dance, fusing local traditional music and martial arts, with them to Hong Kong, the unicorn dance has developed its own styles and sequence of movements.
(2) Wong Tai Sin Belief and Customs
The folk religion of Wong Tai Sin originated in the Jinhua area of Zhejiang Province and was introduced into the Lingnan region at the turn of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Local Wong Tai Sin belief and customs originated in 1915. In 1921, Sik Sik Yuen was established to manage the Wong Tai Sin Temple. After a century of inheritance, nowadays the folk religion of Wong Tai Sin has developed in conjunction with charitable features and has been widely circulated in Hong Kong and overseas Chinese communities. Sik Sik Yuen has founded various social services for the local community, achieving Wong Tai Sin's "grant every wish" spirit.
(3) Quanzhen Temples Taoist Ritual Music
Taoist ritual music consists of Zhengyi (Orthodox Unity School) and Quanzhen (Complete Perfection School) traditions. The Quanzhen Temples Taoist Ritual Music has been developed in Hong Kong for many years. The Taoist music inherited by Fung Ying Seen Koon is considered one of the most typical representatives of the Quanzhen temples tradition in Hong Kong. After decades of inheritance in Hong Kong, the liturgical music of Fung Ying Seen Koon has evolved into a kind of Taoist music with local characteristics under the influence of Cantonese opera and its singing style, Cantonese tunes, and other religious music genres such as Confucian and Buddhist music.
(4) The Arts of the Guqin
The Arts of the Guqin include the techniques for making the qin (a seven-stringed plucked instrument). Qin making is a craft that starts with chopping and trimming a piece of wood, and involves nine steps, namely seeking, chopping, hollowing, fitting, assembling, cement priming, sanding, lacquering and stringing, until it reaches the final stage of becoming an instrument. Local craftsmanship of qin making can be traced back to Xu Wenjing, a master qin player of the Zhejiang school (pai). He taught the craft to Choi Chang-sau, whose family operated the Choi Fook Kee musical instrument shop, in the 1950s. Choi Chang-sau started the Qin Making Class, teaching the craft publicly to local qin players so that it can be perpetuated in Hong Kong.
The State Council announced three batches totalling 1,219 items inscribed onto the national list of ICH in 2006, 2008 and 2011. The governments of Guangdong, the HKSAR and the Macau Special Administrative Region jointly applied and succeeded in inscribing Cantonese opera and traditional herbal teas onto the national list of ICH. In 2011, four local ICH items, the Cheung Chau Jiao Festival, the Tai O dragon boat water parade, the Tai Hang fire dragon dance and the Yu Lan Ghost Festival of the Hong Kong Chiu Chow community, were successfully inscribed onto the third national list of ICH.
DISCOVERY BAY TAXI RESTRICTIONS EASED
Restrictions on taxi access to part of Discovery Bay have been relaxed with effect from 26th October 2014 after the Transport Department gave consent to allow urban (red) and Lantau (blue) taxis to serve Discovery Bay North in the vicinity of Auberge Hotel, DB North Plaza and Yi Pak. Discovery Bay developer HKRI will waive tunnel fees for taxis. Taxis will not, however, be allowed access to other areas of Discovery Bay. The Transport Department has also agreed to allow tourist coaches access the same areas of Discovery Bay.
Discovery Bay was served exclusively by ferry until 2000 when a tunnel connecting the development with the North Lantau Highway was opened. Since then, HKRI has also operated external bus services to Tung Chung, Hong Kong International Airport and Sunny Bay Station.
Taxi rank opposite Auberge hotel at Discovery Bay North
THREE HISTORIC TEMPLES DECLARED MONUMENTS
Three historic temples have been declared as monuments in October 2014 under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance. Lin Fa Temple in Tai Hang, Hung Shing Temple in Ap Lei Chau and Hau Wong Temple in Kowloon City are all currently managed by the Chinese Temples Committee.
LIN FA TEMPLE was believed to have been constructed in 1863. It is not only the oldest Kwun Yam Temple on Hong Kong Island, but is also an important historic landmark in the Tai Hang area and has a strong association with the Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance. On the 14th day of the eighth lunar month every year, the "fire dragon" (made of joss sticks arranged in a dragon-shaped form) is first blessed by Kwun Yam (the Goddess of Mercy) of Lin Fa Temple before the fire dragon is paraded throughout the Tai Hang area. This traditional event, which has a history of over one hundred years, was inscribed onto China's Third National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2011. The architecture of Lin Fa Temple is unique. The front hall is in half-octagonal shape with a double-eaves-tended roof. Different from other two-hall Chinese temples which have a courtyard in between, the front hall of Lin Fa Temple is connected to its main (rear) hall without an internal courtyard in between. Access to the temple is through two staircases on the left and right ends of the front hall, unlike the design of other conventional Chinese temples which have a main entrance in the middle of the facade. There are still many relics kept in the temple, such as Shiwan ceramic figurines (1863) on the main ridge, a granite crafted offering table (1864), a temple bell (1865) and a wooden caimen (1909).
Lin Fa Temple at Tai Hang
HUNG SHING TEMPLE in Ap Lei Chau was probably built by the local community in 1773 for the worship of Hung Shing, a popular deity protecting fishermen and marine traders. It is one of the very few traditional temples with exquisite craftsmanship that still keeps its original sea-orientated fung shui setting and close association with the local community. It has been the main temple in Ap Lei Chau since its establishment. The Hung Shing Festival, which takes place on the 13th day of the second lunar month every year, is still widely celebrated every year by both the land-based and boat-based populations in the area with offerings, procession of the statues of Hung Shing and other deities, lion and dragon dances, traditional Chaozhou music and Cantonese opera performances and other ritual activities. The temple is a typical Qing vernacular two-hall-three-bay building, with a courtyard covered with a pavilion in-between the two halls and two side chambers on its left and right. The temple is widely decorated with exquisite historic Shiwan ceramic figurines and fine wood carvings, particular those on the wooden brackets of the covered courtyard and the parapet walls of the chambers on both sides of the internal courtyard. The vivid ceramic figurines of the God of the Sun and Goddess of the Moon at the end of the gable ridges of the entrance hall are also very impressive. In front of the temple, there are two timber poles painted with a dragon pattern which are rare in Hong Kong. Locals call them "dragon poles", and it is believed that they were erected for protecting the fung shui of the area.
Hung Shing Temple at Ap Lei Chau
HAU WONG TEMPLE in Kowloon City is not only the main temple in the area, but also one of very few temples in Hong Kong still keeping a rich collection of historic relics related to the Kowloon Walled City. The exact year of construction of Hau Wong Temple is not known. With reference to the temple bell which was cast in the 8th year of Yongzheng's reign (1730) of the Qing dynasty, the temple was probably built in or before 1730. Hau Wong Temple was patronised by Qing officials and soldiers when the Kowloon Walled City was still in existence and guarding the territories between 1847 and 1899. A stone tablet engraved in the 9th year of Xianfeng's reign (1859) in the temple indicates a donation by officials from the offices of the Assistant Magistrate of Kowloon and Dapeng Brigade for the renovation of the temple. Other relics like the incense burner donated by Xu Wenshen, the first Assistant Magistrate of Kowloon, in 1847, and a number of timber plaques donated by the military officials of the Kowloon Walled City are still kept in the temple. The most famous relic is the stone inscription of the Chinese character for crane dated 1888 at the back of the temple. The Hau Wong Temple compound consists of the main temple building with later added side chambers, pavilions and stone inscriptions, all standing on a terrace with granite steps leading to the ground level. There is a detached pavilion with hip-and-gable roof supported by granite columns and wooden brackets awkwardly standing in front of the temple. The temple is a two-hall-one-courtyard Chinese vernacular building with later added side chambers at its right. The internal courtyard of the side chambers is decorated with exquisite Shiwan ceramic figurines. The stepped gables of the rear hall in the style of "five peaks paying tribute to heaven" is a very rare design and seldom found in Hong Kong.
Main entrance of Hau Wong Temple, Kowloon City
A common Hong Kong Wi-Fi brand, Wi-Fi.HK, was launched on 5th August 2014 which enables the public and visitors to easily identify free Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the territory.
Locals and visitors can connect to free Wi-Fi if they can access Wi-Fi hotspots under the brand Wi-Fi.HK with smartphones or mobile devices, or at places with the Wi-Fi.HK signage. The Wi-Fi service provided is either completely free or free for at least 30 minutes. No registration is required.
The Wi-Fi.HK website provides details of free public Wi-Fi hotspots under Wi-Fi.HK and an app for mobile devices is also available with search function to locate hotspots by nearest vicinity, district, venue, type or keyword;
To date, participating organisations of the Wi-Fi.HK brand include Hong Kong Telecommunications (HKT) Limited, Hong Kong Broadband Network Limited, Hutchison Global Communications Limited, Y5ZONE Limited, Airport Authority Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation and Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited.
More than 5,000 hotspots are now available under the Wi-Fi.HK brand, including Wi-Fi hotspots under the Government Wi-Fi Programme (GovWiFi). Wi-Fi.HK provides free Wi-Fi service across the city covering Hong Kong International Airport, tourist attractions, public telephone booths, shopping centres, cafés, restaurants, convenience stores, Cyberport, the Science Park and GovWiFi premises.
NEW MAPPING APP LAUNCHED
The Government Lands Department has launched a free mobile map application, "MyMapHK", in June to assist smartphone users searching for geographical locations or information about more than 120 public facilities. Through the three functional features of "MyMapHK", namely, "Map of Hong Kong", "Hiking" and "Old Hong Kong", users can browse maps and search for information about facilities including car parks, petrol stations, libraries, WiFi hotspots, sports venues and more, according to their needs.
The application, available in both Chinese and English versions, offers a speech-to-text search function. It operates on Android 4.0.3 and iOS 6.0 or higher operating systems. Users may search for "MyMapHK" in the iPhone App Store or Google Play Store for direct download.
HKTB CULTURAL KALEIDOSCOPE PROGRAMME DISCONTINUED
Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) has ended its "Hong Kong Cultural Kaleidoscope" programme with effect from 1st April 2014. The programme offered bona-fide visitors an opportunity to experience various local cultural activities including Duk Ling Junk Ride, Tai Chi Class, Feng Shui Class, Chinese Tea Appreciation Class, Cantonese Opera Appreciation Class Chinese Cake-making Class, Chinese Medicine Class and Architecture Walk.
HKTB is aiming to reorganise its resources to provide visitors a greater variety of opportunities to experience Hong Kong’s unique living culture and traditions in future.
TAXI FARE INCREASE
Hong Kong taxi fares have increased with effect from 8th December 2013. The flagfall charge for the first 2km of any journey has risen by HK$2 to HK$22 red, (urban) taxi, HK$18.5 green, (New Territories) taxi and HK$17 blue, (Lantau) taxi. There is also a 10 cents increase in the first stage incremental charge for each 200-metres after the flagfall to HK$1.6 red taxi (journeys 2-9km), HK$1.4 green taxi (journeys 2-8km) and HK$1.4 blue taxi (journeys 2-20km). The surcharge for green taxis for each piece of baggage, animal or bird, and telephone booking, has been increased by HK$1 each HK$5, bringing it in line with red and blue taxis. Taxi fares were last increased in July 2011.
FOUR HISTORIC BUILDINGS TO BE REVITALISED
Proposals have been invited from non-profit making organisations for revitalise four historic buildings, under Batch IV of the Hong Kong government’s Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme.
The buildings are No. 12 School Street, the Old Dairy Farm Senior Staff Quarters on Pok Fu Lam Road, Lady Ho Tung Welfare Centre in Kwu Tung, Sheung Shui, and King Yin Lei on Stubbs Road.
No. 12 School Street, a Grade 3 historic building, was constructed in 1949 to replace an earlier pre-war building named Hung Shing Yi Hok (literally, Confucius free school for the poor), founded in the late Qing Dynasty.
The Old Dairy Farm Senior Staff Quarters was built in 1887 and is a Grade 1 historic building. It is one of the oldest remaining Dairy Farm buildings in Hong Kong and used to be the home of the farm manager.
Lady Ho Tung Welfare Centre is a Grade 2 historic building and was built by the Government in 1932-33 with donations from Sir Robert Ho Tung for use as a welfare centre for local residents. The centre was one of the first rural clinics established in the New Territories and served residents of the entire district.
King Yin Lei was the first privately owned historic building preserved through the provision of economic incentives. This declared monument was previously included under Batch III of the Revitalisation Scheme. The Advisory Committee on Revitalisation of Historic Buildings recommended that the project should be withdrawn from Batch III and relaunched in Batch IV so that a more suitable revitalisation proposal could be identified and the building could be put to better use.
The deadline for submission of applications is 15th April 2014 except for King Yin Lei where the deadline has been extended until May.
The 12 projects selected under the first three batches are at different stages of development. The six projects under Batch I, i.e. the Former North Kowloon Magistracy, the Old Tai O Police Station, Lui Seng Chun, Fong Yuen Study Hall, Mei Ho House and Phase One of the Former Lai Chi Kok Hospital, have come into operation. Two of the projects have received UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation. The Former North Kowloon Magistracy, which was revitalised as the Hong Kong Campus of the Savannah College of Art and Design, received an Honourable Mention in 2011 while the Old Tai O Police Station, which was revitalised as the Tai O Heritage Hotel, has received an Award of Merit.
IMMIGRATION DEPARTMENT MOBILE APP LAUNCHED
Hong Kong Immigration Mobile Application (ImmD Mobile App) has been launched on 5th December 2013 allowing Hong Kong residents and visitors to obtain information on estimated passenger waiting time at all land boundary control points and other ImmD information at any time.
Estimated passenger waiting time assessments are updated about every 15 minutes. The application aims to serve as a reference for Hong Kong residents and visitors so that they can choose a less congested land boundary control point or period of time to travel in order to shorten their waiting time. The ImmD Mobile App also provides information on the addresses and office hours of all ImmD offices and control points, the visa-free country list for HKSAR passport holders, visit visa or entry permit application requirements for visitors to the HKSAR, the Assistance to Hong Kong Residents 24-hour hotline, and Chinese embassy, consulate, mission and representative office lists.
ImmD Mobile App can be downloaded free of charge from the Apple App Store (supports iOS version 4.3 or above) or Google Play (supports Android version 2.2 or above).
TWO HISTORIC BUILDINGS DECLARED MONUMENTS
Two historical buildings on Hong Kong Island, the Cenotaph in Central and Béthanie at 139 Pok Fu Lam Road, have been declared as monuments under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance.
The Cenotaph was unveiled on May 25, 1923, by the then Governor, Sir Edward Stubbs. It is the earliest memorial formally constructed to commemorate the dead of the First World War in Hong Kong. Initially, the Cenotaph was simply inscribed with the words "The Glorious Dead" and the years of the First World War, i.e. "1914-1918". The years "1939-1945" were subsequently added to honour victims of the Second World War. In the 1980s, eight Chinese characters meaning "May their martyred souls be immortal, and their noble spirits endure" were carved on one side of the Cenotaph corresponding to the inscription "The Glorious Dead" to make it clear that the Cenotaph commemorates all who fell, especially those who fell in the defence of Hong Kong. Commemorative activities are still held by the Government and other relevant associations at the Cenotaph every year. The Cenotaph is built of dressed ashlar blocks, designed with a stepped plinth and the upper part diminishing by offsets to culminate at the top in a rectangular sarcophagus upon which rests a stone wreath. The architectural style of the Cenotaph is Classic Revival, based on formal symmetry and principles of pure Roman and Greek forms, founded on archaeological studies and scholarship. The apparent simplicity of the Cenotaph is based on exquisite refinement of classical principles.
Béthanie was completed in 1875 by the Society of Foreign Missions (Société des Missions Étrangéres) as their first sanatorium in East Asia for sick missionaries. The premises was closed in 1974 and was sold to Hongkong Land. The premises was subsequently taken over by the Government. It was then leased to the University of Hong Kong from 1978 to 1997. In 2002, the Government decided to restore and lease Béthanie together with the adjacent Old Dairy Farm Cowshed Building (a Grade 2 historic building) to the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA) for conversion into their second campus. The conversion was completed in 2006 and Béthanie has served as the School of Film and Television of the HKAPA since then. Béthanie consists of three parts: the chapel, the sanatorium and the service wing. Its architecture is of Neo-Gothic style and the plan is in symmetrical form with verandahs on all four sides. Rubble and ashlar plinth wall at the basement level, ornamental balustrades and arched colonnades at the verandahs form the elevations of the building. The most impressive part of the building is its beautiful chapel.
Information on the two monuments is available on the heritage conservation website of the Development Bureau ( www.heritage.gov.hk ).
MTR TO INTRODUCE SMART TICKETS
MTR has introduced “Smart” single-journey tickets from 20th October 2013, with Olympic Station being the first station to accept such tickets and eight more stations, Kam Sheung Road, Heng Fa Chuen, Tai Wo Hau, LOHAS Park, Ngau Tau Kok, Sunny Bay, Che Kung Temple and Fo Tan following during the same month. Magnetic-strip tickets are no longer be sold at these stations but at least one exit and entry gate at each station will accept magnetic stripe tickets to enable passengers to enter and exit all stations regardless of ticket type. Passengers with smart tickets should use the designated blue platform entry barriers and tap the ticket on the card reader (in the same manner as passengers using Octopus Card). At the exit barriers passengers should insert the ticket in the card slot where the card is retained and not returned to the passenger. The HK$200 million smart ticket programme is expected to be completed at all 82 stations by the end of June 2014. Only about 5% of journeys are made using single-journey tickets since most passengers use Octopus Card.
THIRD SHENZHEN AIRPORT CHECK-IN CENTRE OPENED IN HONG KONG
Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport has opened a third check-in centre for cross-border coach passengers in Hong Kong,located at Domain Mall in Yau Tong. Chinalink Bus Company will operate express coach services from the mall to the airport via Kwun Tong, Ngau Tau Kok, Wong Tai Sin and the Shenzhen Bay border check point with the journey taking about 80 minutes. Passengers will still need to carry their own luggage through the border checkpoint but on arrival at the airport will be able to hand over luggage to airline staff for loading onto flights.
Other check-in centres in Hong Kong for cross-border coach passengers to Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport are located at Chinalink coach stations at Elements Mall above Kowloon Station and Pak Hoi Street, Jordan.
HONG KONG DISNEYLAND TO OPEN IRON MAN ZONE
Hong Kong Disneyland has announced plans to open a new themed zone based on the Marvel Comics Iron Man character “which will take guests on an epic adventure of a lifetime as they join Tony Stark in a battle against alien invaders across the city of Hong Kong”. Planned to open in late 2016, Iron man Experience will also include an area where guests can meet and take photos with Iron Man, as well as a Marvel merchandise location.
Disneyland recently completed a 2-year expansion which has seen the introduction of three new themed areas, Toy Story Land, Grizzly Gulch and Mystic Point and the size of the park grow by about 25%.
FREE WI-FI TO BE EXTENDED TO ALL MTR STATIONS
MTR Corporation has announced that, as from 8th July 2013, free Wi-Fi hotspots will be available at all MTR stations. Free Wi-Fi is currently available at iCentres at 14 stations. The free Wi-Fi service will be available in the paid area of stations but not on platforms or trains. Each connection session will be limited to 15 minutes with a maximum of 5 sessions per day.
MTR EAST RAIL LINE LUGGAGE WEIGHT LIMIT RESTRICTION TIGHTENED
With effect from 4th February 2013, the weight limit for passenger luggage on MTR East Rail Line is to be lowered from 32kg to 23kg for a trial period of three months. Mandatory weighing of large luggage will be extended to Tai Po Market and Fo Tan stations, in addition to Sheung Shui, Lok Ma Chau and Lo Wu Stations where mandatory weighing of luggage is already in force with scales being set up at designated entrances to these stations. Luggage must also comply with existing size limits which stipulate that passengers may carry one piece of total dimension (length, width, height) of 170cm and the length of any one side not exceeding 130cm.
The 32kg weight limit trial was implemented on 9th October 2012, initially for a period of three months, but was extended in January. The weight restrictions, which apply only to East Rail Line, have been imposed as a specific response to complaints and demonstrations from the general public in relation to the activities of cross-border parallel traders who regularly use the MTR to transport large quantities of boxes of goods weighing up to 80kg on trolleys, causing congestion within trains and outside stations and on station platforms at stations near the border. The restrictions have been tightened at the request of the government. MTR has a dedicated By-laws Inspection Unit (BIU) of 39 members to enforce MTR By-laws at East Rail Line stations. They are supported by a team of more than 90 private security personnel and the BIU is being strengthened by another 20 members, bringing the total number of inspectors to 59.
DISNEYLAND BUS ROUTES R11 & R22 DISCONTINUED
Citybus bus services R11 and R22, which operate direct routes from Hong Kong Disneyland to urban areas daily, following conclusion of the Disney fireworks display, will cease to operate after 13th January 2013. As an alternative, passengers wishing to travel to urban areas by bus from Hong Kong Disneyland can take bus R8 from Hong Kong Disneyland Public Transport Interchange to the Lantau Link Toll Plaza and connect with Cityflyer services A11, A21, A22 or A29. A bus-bus interchange discount is available for passengers using Octopus Card and using service R8 to interchange at the Lantau Link Toll Plaza.
PARK ISLAND - TSEUN WAN FERRY SERVICE REDUCTION / TAXI RESTRICTIONS LIFTED
The Park Island Transport Company ferry service operating between the Park Island complex at Ma Wan and Tsuen Wan ceased operating from 14th December 2012. However, a limited ferry service between Park Island Pier and Tsuen Wan Pier resumed on 8th June 2013 with three daily sailings each way at 11-15, 13-15 and 15-15 from Park Island and 11-45, 13-45 and 15-45 from Tsuen Wan. The service has been in operation since 2002 but has been making heavy losses. Park Island bus service NR331, offers alternative transport between Park Island and Tsuen Wan Railway Station at 20/30 minute frequency between 6am and midnight.
The Park Island ferry service operating between Park Island and Central Pier 2 continues to operate normal service.
Restrictions on taxi access to Ma Wan have been lifted with effect from 14th December 2012 and urban taxis can now serve Ma Wan 24 hours a day.
SUNBEAM THEATRE REPRIEVED
Hong Kong's main venue and "home" of Cantonese Opera performances for the last 40 years since its founding in 1972, the 1033-seat Sunbeam Theatre on King's Road at North Point, which was due to stage its final performance on 19th February 2012, has been saved from closure. The theatre, which has been privately run by Hong Kong Arts Entertainment Company Limited had been due to close to make way for a new shopping mall, having already been reprieved for three years after having been threatened with closure when the previous lease expired in February 2009. The current owner, a property developer, purchased the property for HK$162 million in 2003 with the intention of demolishing the theatre and building on the site but a three-year extension to the lease was agreed with the Hong Kong Government on the understanding that the owner would be allowed to redevelop the site when the extension to the lease expires. The monthly rental tripled to HK$698,000 and funding for the lease extension has amounted to around HK$6.6 million with HK$3 million being provided by private donations and the government funding the balance. In a last minute deal the owner has agreed a further four year lease with Cantonese opera playwright Li Kui-ming for a sum of HK$1 million a month but no further government funding will be provided. The theatre will be managed by Li's Prime Splendor Theatrical Troupe and staff who previously ran the theatre are being re-hired.
There have been about 150 shows annually at the theatre performed by professional troupes, with each show being supported by a HK$15,000 government subsidy through the Arts Development Council. The theatre, on the ground level of Kiu Fai Mansion, was originally built as a 1600-seat theatre in 1972 but was divided in the early 1980's with the main theatre, the Grand Theatre on the ground floor, used mostly for operatic performances containing 1033 seats and a small theatre upstairs containing 340 seats.
The theatre has been closed since February and is undergoing a HK$10 million renovation which includes fitting of new carpets and seats, and will reopen on 21st May. The small theatre will become a centre for performing-arts education.
Hong Kong's repreived "Home of Cantonese Opera", the Sunbeam Theatre, on King's Road at North Point, reopens on 21st May 2012 after renovation
Since taking over the lease, Li has expressed his intention to turn the theatre into a cultural centre promoting the art of Cantonese Opera and a much wider range of performing arts such as other forms of Chinese opera, drama, magic and acrobatic shows. There are also plans for the Sunbeam to become the largest cinema in Hong Kong by installing a digital film projector capable of being upgraded to show 3-D movies.
A large 1100-seat theatre is being built as a permanent venue for Cantonese Opera in the Xiqu Centre the West Kowloon Cultural District which is scheduled for completion in 2015/16. In the meantime an 600-seat annexe to the 1031-seat Ko Shan Theatre in Hung Hom is due to be completed in 2013 to enable more Cantonese Opera rehearsals and performances at that venue which currently has about 140 Cantonese Opera performances annually and Yau Ma Tei Theatre has been redeveloped to provide a venue for small-scale performances and operatic singing activities. Chan Shun Kui Community Hall in North Point has also been considered as a future venue in order that a Cantonese Opera Theatre venue can be maintained on Hong Kong Island.
Foyer of the Sunbeam Theatre seen shortly before its reopening on 21st May 2012
BABY ORANGUTAN TWINS ON PUBLIC DISPLAY
A pair of Bornean orangutan twins, born at Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens (HKZBG) in July 2011, have been put on public display from 10th February 2012 in two daily one-hour viewing sessions.
The male baby, Wan Wan, weighed about two kilogrammes at birth while the female, Wah Wah, was about 1.4 kilogrammes. They are now five kilogrammes and four kilogrammes respectively. The twins' father, Vandu, was born in Belgium while their mother, Raba, is an "aborigine" of the HKZBG and was born in the gardens. Though coming from different origins, they successfully mated and gave birth to newborns in the environment of the gardens.
In view of the twins' young age and with regard to their living pattern and growth needs, HKZBG has arranged the two one-hour visit sessions per day for the public to meet the twins through a viewing window of the activity room at the HKZBG Education and Exhibition Centre, Albany Road, Central. The visit sessions run from 10am to 11am and 2pm to 3pm. Visitors should remain silent during the tour and refrain from tapping on the window of the activity room or using flashlights and follow the instructions of staff at the scene.
Female baby orangutan Wah Wah
FOUR HONG KONG FESTIVALS INCLUDED IN CHINA'S NATIONAL HERITAGE LIST
Four traditional Hong Kong Festivals have been included in China's national list of intangible cultural heritage from June 2011;
TAI HANG FIRE DRAGON DANCE
The event has been held for more than 100 years. Tai Hang was originally a Hakka village. Legend has it that a plague broke out there in 1880, and to ward off the disease the villagers planted joss sticks in a dragon-shaped form. On the evening of the 14th, 15th and 16th of the eighth lunar month, the villagers paraded the fire dragon through the village and let off firecrackers. The plague ended after the event. From then on, the villagers have performed a three-day fire dragon dance every year to bless themselves.
CHEUNG CHAU JIAO FESTIVAL (BUN FESTIVAL)
The activity has been practised for more than 100 years. Cheung Chau was devastated by a plague in the late Qing dynasty. Local residents set up a sacrificial altar in front of Pak Tai Temple to pray to the god Pak Tai to drive off evil spirits. The residents even paraded deity statues through the village lanes. The plague ceased after performance of the ritual. Since then, residents on Cheung Chau have organised a Jiao Festival every year to express thanks to the god for blessing and protecting them. With residents' participation every year, the ritual has been passed down through the generations.
YU LAN GHOST FESTIVAL OF THE HONG KONG CHIU CHOW COMMUNITY
There are about 1.2 million people originating from Chiu Chow in Hong Kong who actively carry on their traditions. During the ghost festival, which lasts for a month every year, the Chiu Chow people in Hong Kong organise the Yu Lan Festival that starts from the first day of the seventh lunar month and continues until the end of that month. Having been held for more than 100 years, the festival is to offer sacrifices to ancestors and the wandering ghosts in the netherworld. The main activities include burning incense and joss papers, performing live Chinese operas and dramas for ghosts, distributing auspicious rice and auctioning auspicious objects.
TAI O DRAGON BOAT WATER PARADE
During the annual Dragon Boat Festival, three fishermen's associations, Pa Teng, Sin Yu Heung and Hap Sim Tong, organise a religious activity known as the dragon boat water parade. On the morning before the festival, members of the associations row their dragon boats to visit four temples in Tai O, where they receive statues of Yeung Hou, Tin Hau, Kwan Tei and Hung Shing. They carry the deity statues back to their associations' hall for worship. On the day of the festival, the deity statues are put on sacred sampans towed by the associations' dragon boats to parade through Tai O's waters. The deity statues are returned to the respective temples after the ritual. This unique religious activity has been preserved for more than a century.
The HKSAR Government submitted an application for these four items to be inscribed onto the third national list of intangible cultural heritage in September 2009, having been selected from a shortlist of 349 cultural items. The four items fall within the category of "social practices, rituals and festive events" set out in the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.