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
NGONG PING 360 CABLE CAR TEMPORARY CLOSURE 6th to 26th MARCH 2019
The Ngong Ping 360 cable car operating between Tung Chung and Ngong Ping is to close for scheduled maintenance from 6th to 26th March 2019 inclusive. Normal service will resume on 27th March. 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, either 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, subject to availability, Lantau (blue) taxi, fare approx HK$180, journey time about 35 mins.
AVENUE OF STARS REOPENED
The popular tourist attraction Avenue of Stars, which has been closed for renovation works since October 2015, reopened to the public on 31st January 2019.
The works have enhanced those elements related to the Hong Kong film industry. In addition to the 107 original superstars' handprints, nine new handprints from the winners of Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actress are to be added soon. A special pig hoof print from one of the McDull statues has also been added. All handprints have been newly designed and carry the elegant bronze colour of the Hong Kong Film Award statuette. The handprints have been finely crafted and the palm prints are clearly visible. After relocating the handprints from the ground to wooden handrails, allowing visitors a closer look at them.
Visitors can also get closer to the four bronze statues are no longer surrounded by fences. The statues of Bruce Lee and Anita Mui are decorated beneath with flowing-water features; the water installation for the former flows faster to represent Lee's martial arts fighting speed, while the latter flows more slowly to mimic Mui's performance on stage. Visitors can use smart phones to scan QR codes near the handprints to view a brief biography and film footage of the superstars and learn more about them and also take photos next to the statues of the stars with the augmented reality (AR) based technology on site.
The Bruce Lee statue is decorated with flowing-water features beneath. The water flows quickly to represent his martial arts fighting speed
The revitalisation project also provides visitors with a more comfortable and relaxing harbourfront for meeting with others. The project emphasised landscape design, leading to a double of the seating area, as well as an increase of shaded and green areas by about 700% and 800% respectively. Environmentally friendly materials have also been used - the railings and chairs are made of a bio-based wood substitute which mainly consists of rice husks, while the light-coloured pavers, which partly comprise recycled glass, help reduce heat absorption.
The design and has doubled the seating area and substantially increased the shaded and green areas.
For further information see the Avenue of Stars website;
NEW TOYOTA COMFORT HYBRID TAXI INTRODUCED INTO SERVICE
Crown Motors, the exclusive distributor of Hong Kong's Toyota taxis, has announced the introduction of the new Toyota Comfort Hybrid Taxi. The LPG/electric model has a capacity of 4 passengers and is equipped with an electric sliding door for wheelchair access. The new taxi costs about HK$320,000, about HK$60,000 more than the previous Toyota Comfort taxi which has already ceased production, and can achieve a fuel consumption of 19.4km compared to 9km per litre for the old model. It is expected that about 1,000 new model taxis will be in service by the end of 2019.
The new Toyota Comfort Hybrid Taxi
WEST KOWLOON CULTURAL DISTRICT XIQU CENTRE OPENING DATE
The Xiqu Centre, the traditional Chinese performing arts and music venue in West Kowloon Cultural District, is to officially open on 20th January 2019.
The distinctive eight -storey building covers an area of 28,164 sq mtrs, including the 1,073-seat Grand Theatre, Tea House Theatre, eight professional studios and a seminar hall. The centre has been designed to be soundproof in order to eliminate noise from the two main roads outside the centre and the nearby Austin and West Kowloon stations. The Grand Theatre is located 30-metres above ground and will not be affected by vibration from trains. The Tea House is a small 200-seat capacity venue furnished in contemporary Chinese style. Audiences will be able to participate in the tradition of drinking tea and enjoying snacks while watching the performance. The 108-seat capacity Seminar Hall will house film screenings, talks and cultural exchanges. The centre also has a Chinese restaurant, a cha chaan teng, outlets selling special Chinese desserts and cakes, and souvenir and retail shops.
The opening performance in the Grand Theatre will be the Cantonese Opera "The Reincarnation of Red Plum" which will run from 21st to 30th January and was first played in 1959. The opera is a love story between scholar Pei You and the ghost of his concubine Li Huiniang and was first performed in 1959.
The centre was designed by leading Canadian architect Bing Thom Architects and Hong Kong award-winning architect Ronald Lu & Partners following a 10 month competition during 2012 which attracted over 50 entrants and construction began in Sepetember 2013. The building features a lantern-like design with core elements of traditional Chinese architecture, being a gateway, pavilion, courtyard, nature and the concept of "qi", the flow and transition between internal structures and neighbouring buildings. "Flow" is interpreted in the fluid movements in the building and the use of curved planes, arched openings and circular paths, nature is expressed by bringing the landscape into different levels of the building to create in-between spaces, gateway and pavilion is represented in the openness and door-less nature of the design, welcoming different visitors into the building from all four of its corners and courtyard is presented as a generous covered public space on ground level, which serves as an urban stage for events and celebrations.
The distinctive façade and main entrance of the Xiqu Centre, designed to resemble parted stage curtains
The final cost of the government funded project which will be directly operated by the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority is about HK$2.7 billion, more than double the original estimate in 2006.
For details of performances and events at the Xiqu Centre see;
HONG KONG RAILWAY MUSEUM OUTDOOR EXHIBITS TEMPORARY CLOSURE
Visitors to Hong Kong Railway Museum at Tai Po should note that during January and February 2019 a number of outdoor exhibits will be temporarily closed for maintenance work.
CENTRAL - WAN CHAI BYPASS AND ISLAND EASTERN CORRIDOR LINK OPENING DATE
The Central-Wan Chai Bypass and Island Eastern Corridor Link (CWB) will be commissioned on Sunday 20th January 2019.
The CWB is 4.5 kilometres long of which 3.7km is in form of a tunnel, and connects the Rumsey Street Flyover in Central and the Island Eastern Corridor (IEC) in North Point. It will become a strategic highway running along the northern part of Hong Kong Island and will substantially alleviate the traffic congestion along the northern part of Hong Kong Island. Upon commissioning, it will take only 5 minutes to drive between Central and the IEC in North Point, making the traffic between the eastern and western part of Hong Kong Island more direct and smoother. To assist road users, three slip roads in Wan Chai and one slip road in Tin Hau have been constructed to connect the CWB with the local road network.
In addition, the CWB Tunnel will introduce the first air purification system for use in road tunnels in Hong Kong, which can effectively remove at least 80 per cent of the respirable suspended particulates and nitrogen dioxide, resulting in air purification. This air purification system represents the largest scale of such application in the world.
As the alteration work for connecting the CWB westbound carriageway with the Rumsey Street Flyover needs to be carried out after the opening of the CWB eastbound carriageway, the CWB will be commissioned in two stages;
STAGE 1 COMMISSIONING (from 20th January onwards)
The CWB Tunnel will be commissioned except the westbound carriageway where the alteration work will be required to connect with the Rumsey Street Flyover. Closure of all eastbound traffic lanes of the Rumsey Street Flyover down ramp leading to Connaught Road Central, and the alteration works for connecting the westbound carriageway from the CWB Tunnel with the Rumsey Street Flyover, will last for about one month. At that time, eastbound traffic of Rumsey Street Flyover may travel to all districts via the CWB Tunnel eastbound and Man Po Street.
STAGE 2 COMMISSIONING
The westbound carriageway of the CWB Tunnel connected with Rumsey Street Flyover westbound will be opened. The CWB Tunnel will then be fully commissioned.
A commissioning ceremony will be held at the Central Portal of the CWB Tunnel on 19th January 2019.
Six bus routes, 720X, 88X, 962C, 969C, 33X and 18X will use the bypass.
The Central Portal of the Central - Wan Chai Bypass Tunnel which is to open in January
RELAXATION OF NO-STOPPING RESTRICTIONS FOR TAXIS TO BE MADE PERMANENT
In line with recommendations in the Public Transport Strategy Study published in June 2017, starting from 28th December 2018 works will progressively be carried out to permanently relax the restrictions on taxis for picking up or setting down passengers in all designated restricted zones on roads with speed limit at 70 kilometres per hour or below. Supplementary traffic signs displaying "except taxi pick up or drop off" beneath traffic signs with a no-stopping restriction will progressively be erected in restricted zones across the territory. This will spare the taxi trade the need to renew restricted zone permits annually. The works are expected to be completed by 2021. Before the completion of the works, restricted zone permits will continue to be issued to the taxi trade at the end of January each year.
Taxi drivers have been reminded to continue to exercise self-discipline and to strictly observe the "pick up, drop-off and go" and "no waiting" rules. In the event of violations of the rules causing obstruction to other road users, the Government may consider implementing traffic control measures, including restoring the no-stopping restrictions for taxis at certain road sections.
The current scheme for relaxation of no stopping restrictions was introduced in 2003 to help taxis recover from the economic effect of the SARS crisis by enabling them to provide better point to point services and compete better with other public transport, Taxis can now pick up and drop off almost anywhere, provided they do not cause an obstruction. However, taxis are not allowed to wait for passengers on roads with no stopping restrictions. The scheme, under which taxi owners/drivers must apply for a permit for exemption from picking up or setting down on roads with no stopping restrictions has been reviewed annually with the latest exemption expiring on 31st January 2019.
NWFB OCEAN PARK TO PEAK BUS ROUTE 15R LAUNCHED
New World First Bus (NWFB) has launched recreational route 15R operating between Ocean Park and The`Peak. on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays between 17th November 2018 and 17th February 2019. The service operates at 5pm and 6pm from Ocean Park Main Entrance and travels via Wong Chuk Hang Road, Nam Fung Road, Wong Nai Chung Gap Road, Stubbs Road and Peak Road to the Peak Galleria Bus Terminus. Adult fare is HK$11.7
PEAK TRAM UPGRADE PROJECT AND TEMPORARY CLOSURES
Following the award to the Peak Tramways Company of an additional 10-year period operating rights from 2026 to 2035 for the Peak Tram the Hong Kong Government has also approved the company's upgrade plan. The project, estimated to cost HK$684 million is being wholly funded by The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels Limited which owns the Peak Tramways Company.
The project, which begins in late 2018 will see new tramcars which will increase the current capacity of 120 passengers per trip to 210 and include new air-conditioned queuing and waiting areas for up to 1,300 passengers and is expected to be completed in 2021. During the construction period there will be two service suspension periods, from late April 2019 for about two months and during the summer of 2020 for about five months. Exact dates have not yet been announced. The Peak Tower and Sky Terrace 428 will remain open as usual and the company is working with transport operators to ensure adequate alternative public transport to The Peak is available during the closure periods.
HONG KONG - ZHUHAI - MACAO BRIDGE OPENING DATE
Following an offical opening ceremony on 23rd October, the Hong Kong - Zhuhai - Macao Bridge (HZMB) will open to the public the following day, Wednesday 24th October 2018.
Work on the 55km dual three-lane bridge and tunnel sea crossing began in December 2009 and includes a 22.9km main bridge, 6.7km underwater tunnel, two artificial islands and link roads of about 12.6km on the Hong Kong side and 13.9km on the Macau and Zhuhai side. On the Hong Kong side the link to the tunnel and main bridge starts from a 130-hectare artificial island east of Hong Kong International Airport where the Boundary Crossing Facilities are located. The Zhuhai and Macao Boundary Crossing Facilities are located on an artificial island off Gongbei close to the mainland/Macau border.
The Hong Kong Port will be served by various modes of public transport including franchised buses, green minibuses, coaches and taxis. Having passed through immigration control at the Boundary Crossing Facilities Building, passengers can interchange to a 24-hour frequent shuttle bus service to travel to the Zhuhai and Macao control points. The service operates at a frequency of 5 minutes in peak hours, 10 to 15 minutes during non-peak daytime hours and 15-30 minutes overnight. Journey time between Hong Kong Port and Macau Port is about 40 minutes. The adult fare is HK$65 during the daytime and HK$70 at night.
To serve the Hong Kong Port three new franchised bus routes and one green minibus route. Passengers using MTR can interchange to route B5 at Sunny Bay Station or route B6 at Tung Chung Station. Route B4 links up the Airport and the Hong Kong Port to facilitate air passengers and also those going to the Asia World Expo. There will also be one green minibus route 901 from Tung Chung to Hong Kong Port via the catering area in the airport island.
In addition to the new routes, nine existing direct "A" airport bus routes are being extended to serve the Hong Kong Port.
Apart from franchised buses, contract hire coaches for tour groups can serve the control point.
The control point will be served by all taxis (urban - red, New Territories - green and Lantau - blue).
In addition to shuttle buses, to cross the bridge passengers can also use cross-boundary coach services which provide direct point-to-point services from Hong Kong destinations to destinations in Mainland and also in Macao.
Travellers can also take cross-boundary hire cars. There is provision of about 3,000 private car parking spaces at the Macao Port and a HZMB Macao Port Park-and-Ride Scheme.
Hong Kong Transport Department has launched a dedicated website with useful information for getting to and crossing the bridge and procedures and facilities at the Hong Kong Port;
REMOVAL OF GARDEN OF STARS STATUES
The statues of Bruce Lee, Anita Mui, the Hong Kong Film Awards and Mcdull will be removed from the Garden of Stars from the following dates for maintenance as a part of the preparation for re-opening of the renovated Avenue of Stars;
Statues of Bruce Lee and Anita Mui - 1st November 2018
Statue of Hong Kong Film Awards - 8th November 2018
Statue of McDull - 15th November 2018
The existing handprints will remain at the Garden of Stars during this period and the Avenue of Stars is tentatively scheduled to be re-opened in early 2019.
The Garden of Stars at Tsim Sha Tsui East Waterfront Podium has been the temporary home for some of the statues and exhibits of the Avenue of Stars which closed for major renovation in October 2015.
TEMPORARY CLOSURE OF HONG KONG MUSEUM OF COASTAL DEFENCE
Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence is closed from 17th September 2018 until further notice owing to serious damage to its tensile structure caused by Tropical Cyclone Mangkhut.
The museum had already planned for closure in early 2019 for facility improvement and revamping of its permanent exhibition, the renovation and necessary repair works will be planned and implemented on a holistic basis. It is anticipated that the museum will be closed for a relatively long period of time.
NGONG PING 360 PRICE INCREASE
Ngong Ping 360 has announced new prices, amounting to an average increase of 10.4%, for cable car tickets to take effect from 1st October 2018;
Round-Trip (Standard Cabin) HK$235 (previously HK$210)
Single -Trip (Standard Cabin) HK$160 (HK$145)
Round-Trip (Crystal Cabin) HK$315 (HK$290)
Single -Trip (Crystal Cabin) HK$215 (HK$200)
Round-Trip (Standard Cabin) HK$110 (previously HK$100)
Single -Trip (Standard Cabin) HK$75 (HK$70)
Round-Trip (Crystal Cabin) HK$190 (HK$180)
Single -Trip (Crystal Cabin) HK$135 (HK$130)
Round-Trip (Standard Cabin) HK$155 (previously HK$140)
Single -Trip (Standard Cabin) HK$105 (HK$95)
Round-Trip (Crystal Cabin) HK$235 (HK$220)
Single -Trip (Crystal Cabin) HK$160 (HK$150)
Hong Kong residents can purchase tickets at the previous prices at Tung Chung or Ngong Ping Cable Car Terminus between 1st October and 31st December 2018 on production of Hong Kong ID Card or birth certificate.
The price of the 360 Annual Pass remains unchanged at HK$550.
FOOD TRUCK PILOT SCHEME EXTENDED BY TWO YEARS
The Food Truck Pilot Scheme which was launched by the Hong Kong Tourism Commission in February 2017 has been extended by two years to 2nd February 2021. A review of the scheme found that the gross revenue of the 15 food trucks varied. Some performed quite well and even opened brick-and-mortar shops. Although the performance of some was just average, the overall situation reflected that there is some room for business for food trucks.
In respect of the operating venues, except for AsiaWorld-Expo which will not participate further in the Scheme in light of its development plan, the Tourism Commission has sought the agreement in principle from the management of all of the other 11 existing operating venues to continue accommodating the 15 food trucks to operate in their venues and will continue to arrange for food trucks to operate at designated mega events organised by the Hong Kong Tourism Board.
Since the launch of the Scheme, the Toursim Commission has rolled out a number of refinement measures with a view to improving the business environment and expanding the operational flexibility of the food trucks. These include introducing new operating venues; providing a more flexible shift arrangement; allowing food trucks to participate in self-identified events; allowing operators to opt whether to operate at the scheduled designated venues; and allowing operators to identify new operating venues for consideration and follow-up by the Government. During the extension period of the Scheme, the Tourism Commission will continue to look for other new operating venues and explore further refinement measures where practicable.
For details of the scheme see;
"VISIT HONG KONG" WEBSITE LAUNCHED BY TOURISM COMMISSION
The Tourism Commission, part of the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau of the Hong Kong Government, has launched a new website aimed particularly at visitors just arriving in Hong Kong to help access Hong Kong tourism information via mobile devices.
The "Visit Hong Kong" website is a one-stop platform for useful tourist information, including terminal facilities, events/festivals and attractions in Hong Kong, transport to/from tourist attractions, shopping, dining, hotels and promotional offers to assist visitors in itinerary planning. Tourists arriving at Hong Kong International Airport can also click on the link provided through the free Wi-Fi services at the airport to visit the landing page. The landing page provides a function for tourists to share content through social media platforms and adopts a responsive web design which enables an automatic adjustment of page size and content in mobile phones and tablet computers. The landing page will be extended to other control points including the soon-to-be-commissioned West Kowloon Station of Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link and Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge.
The website can be found at;
WEST KOWLOON STATION BUS TERMINUS TO COMMENCE OPERATION
West Kowloon Station Bus Terminus, which is located at the north side of West Kowloon Station, will commence operation on Sunday 16th September 2018 to replace the temporary bus terminus at To Wah Road in Jordan and provide services for passengers wishing to use the High Speed Rail.
KMB routes 36B, 36X, 42A, 46, 60X, 63X, 69X, 81, 95 and 268X, which currently terminate at the temporary bus terminus at To Wah Road in Jordan, will be relocated to West Kowloon Station Bus Terminus from 16th September. KMB route 271 which currently terminates at Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui will be extended to terminate at West Kowloon Station Bus Terminus from 16th September and en-route bus stops will be provided at Canton Road.
From 23rd September 2018, the date of commencement of High Speed Rail operations, three new bus routes will provide services to/from West Kowloon Station Bus Terminus, namely Citybus route W1 (to/from Admiralty and Central), KMB route W2 (to/from Kwun Tong and Lam Tin) and KMB route W3 (to/from Sheung Shui, Tai Po and Sha Tin).
Citybus Route W1 West Kowloon Station bound service operates from 05-45 to 21-45 daily, departing from Admiralty Station (West) Bus Terminus, via Connaught Road Central near Statue Square and directly heading via the Western Habour Crossing for West Kowloon Station boarding and alighting area, before terminating at West Kowloon Station. Admiralty bound service operates from 07-30 to midnight daily, departing from West Kowloon Station, via West Kowloon Station boarding and alighting area and directly heading for Connaught Road Central near Jardine House, before terminating at Admiralty Station (West) Bus Terminus. The service will operate at 10-15 minute frequency. The full fare is HK$8.9.
KMB Route W2 West Kowloon Station bound service operates from 05-20 to 22-40 daily, departing from Kwun Tong Station via Lam Tin Station , Kowloon Bay International Trade and Exhibition Centre (KITEC) and West Kowloon Station boarding and alighting area, before terminating at West Kowloon Station. Kwun Tong bound service operates from 06-25 to 01-00 daily via the same route. The service will operate at 15-20 minute frequency. The full fare is HK$5.5.
KMB Route W3 West Kowloon Station bound service operates from 05-00 to 22-40 daily, departing from Sheung Shui Bus Terminus via Kwong Fuk Estate, Sha Tin Station, Tsing Sha Highway Toll Plaza, West Kowloon Station boarding and alighting area, before terminating at West Kowloon Station. Sheung Shui bound service operates from 06-25 to 01-00 daily via the same route. The service will operate at 15-20 minute frequency. The full fare is HK$12.7.
Discounted (10%) round-trip tickets, valid 3 months from date of issue, can be purchased for routes W2 and W3 by using Octopus Card at the bus supervisor's offices at West Kowloon Station Bus Terminus, Lam Tin Station Bus Station and Sheung Shui Bus Terminus.
The new West Kowloon Station Bus Terminus will provide services for passengers wishing to travel to/from West Kowloon Station where high-speed rail services commence on 23rd September 2018
NEW GEOPARK FERRY SERVICE LAUNCHED
Visitors to Hong Kong can explore two islands within the Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark by a new kaito ferry service operating between Ma Liu Shui, Kat O (Crooked Island) and Ap Chau (Duck Island), launched on 2nd September 2018 by Best Sonic Industrial Limited. The service operates on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays leaving from Ma Liu Shui Landing No3 at 8-30am , arrives Kat O Pier at 10am, departs Kat O at 10-15am, arrives Ap Chau Pier at 10-30am, departs Ap Chau at 12 noon, arriving on the return journey at Kat O at 12-15pm, departing 3-30pm and arriving back at Ma Liu Shui at 5pm. The fare for the round-trip is HK$90 or for a single-journey between Kat O and Ma Liu Shui HK$50.
Ma Liu Shui Landing Pier is located about 15 minutes walk from University MTR Station (East Rail Line) by following the direction signs from station exit B.
HONG KONG PARK AVIARY TEMPORARY CLOSURE
The Edward Youde Aviary in Hong Kong Park is to close from 17th September 2018 until 1st February 2019 for the first phase of refurbishment works.
The second phase of refurbishment works is expected to commence in mid-2019.
OPENING DATE FOR HONG KONG SECTION OF GUANGZHOU - SHENZHEN - HONG KONG EXPRESS RAIL LINK ANNOUNCED
Hong Kong's Transport and Housing Bureau has announced that the Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou - Shenzhen - Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) will commence operating on 23rd September 2018. The opening of XRL will connect Hong Kong with the 25,000 km Chinese national high-speed rail network allowing direct trains to 44 destinations. The 26km Hong Kong Section of the 142km XRL runs underground from the West Kowloon Station terminus to the mainland boundary at Huanggang where it connects with the national network. Constuction began on mid-2010 and the estimated cost of the project is about HK$84 billion. The service concession has been granted to MTR Corporation for a 10-year period.
The 44 destinations that the direct XRL trains will reach comprise six short-haul destinations, namely Futian, Shenzhen North, Guangmingcheng, Humen, Qingsheng and Guangzhou South of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Passenger Line, and 38 long-haul destinations along the Beijing-Guangzhou Passenger Line, the Hangzhou-Fuzhou-Shenzhen Passenger Line, the Shanghai-Kunming Passenger Line and the Guiyang-Guangzhou Passenger Line, including Beijing, Shanghai, Kunming, Guilin, Guiyang, Shijiazhuang, Zhengzhou, Wuhan, Changsha, Hangzhou, Nanchang, Fuzhou, Xiamen and Shantou.
There will be 114 pairs of short-haul trains daily during peak periods (general holidays of Hong Kong and public holidays in the Mainland and the connecting weekends, summer holidays during July and August, and the Spring Festival travel seasons in the Mainland). On weekdays and weekends (Friday to Sunday), 70 and 82 train pairs will run daily respectively. Subject to market demand, the train schedule will be suitably adjusted in view of passenger flow. There will also be 13 pairs of direct long-haul trains daily. Nine sets of Hong Kong-owned trains are branded "Vibrant Express".
Journey times for long-haul services include 8h 56m to Beijing, 8h 17m to Shanghai, 6h 20m to Zhengzhou, 4h 33m to Wuhan 3h 12m to Changsha, 7h 38m to Kunming 10h 30m to Hangzhou and 3h 19m to Guilin.
Short-haul journey time to Guangzhou South is 47 minutes via non-stop services and between 51 and 71 minutes for stopping services. Journey time to Futian and Shenzhen North is 14 and 23 minutes respectively.
Trains to Futian and Shenzhen North will operate at 10 to 20 minute frequency and to Guangzhou South at 15 to 30 minute frequency although only three daily services to Guangzhou South will be non-stop.
Second Class fares from the Hong Kong terminus, West Kowloon Station, to the short-haul destinations will range between RMB68 (about HK$78) for Futian to RMB215 (about HK$247) for Guangzhou South. Second Class fares of long-haul destinations along the Beijing-Guangzhou Passenger Line, the Hangzhou-Fuzhou-Shenzhen Passenger Line, the Shanghai-Kunming Passenger Line and the Guiyang-Guangzhou High-Speed Railway, are RMB1,077 (about HK$1,239) for Beijing, RMB349 about HK$401) for Fuzhou, RMB1,008 (about HK$1,159) for Shanghai and RMB538 (about HK$619) for Guiyang respectively. In actual operation, there may be various promotional and concession fares for the XRL during non-peak periods or low seasons for tourists having regard to market demand.
It is planned to adjust the fares of the XRL in Hong Kong dollars on a monthly basis for tickets sold through the Hong Kong ticketing system (via a Hong Kong ticketing website and hotline, at a ticketing office and ticket vending machines at West Kowloon Station and through local travel agencies). As for the arrangements and service fees for purchasing Mainland journey tickets, the Mainland and Hong Kong sides have agreed, as an interim measure, to charge concessionary service fees for people purchasing Mainland journey tickets at the five ticketing counters at the ticketing office of West Kowloon Station. The new service fees will depend on the fare level - HK$10 for a ticket less than RMB200, HK$20 for a ticket at or above RMB200 to less than RMB300 and HK$30 for a ticket at or above RMB300. As compared with the current service fees for purchasing Mainland journey tickets, the new arrangement greatly reduces the service fees for purchasing Mainland journey tickets at West Kowloon Station. Meanwhile, MTR Corporation and China Railway Corporation are exploring other channels through which Hong Kong passengers may purchase Mainland journey tickets in a more convenient manner. China Railway Corporation is in support of the idea of enhancing the Mainland ticketing system ( http://www.12306.cn/mormhweb/ ),currently available only to those with Mainland phone numbers, to facilitate online purchase of Mainland journey tickets by Hong Kong passengers and is working to overcome the policy and technical challenges with a view to achieving system enhancement.
For timetables, fares and ticketing information see;
The rail line is expected to carry about 80,100 passengers a day, of which about 13,700 are expected to use services to long-haul destinations and 66,400 travelling to short-haul destinations such as Shenzhen, Dongguan and Guangzhou.
The Hong Kong Government has transferred the assets and land rights of the railway to the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC). Under the Supplemental Agreement to the existing Service Concession Agreement, the KCRC has granted the MTR Corporation a 10-year concession to operate the XRL. The MTR Corporation will pay the KCRC concession payments based on the actual patronage of the XRL.
A joint immigration checkpoint will operate enabling passengers to complete both Hong Kong and Mainland entry/exit procedures at West Kowloon Station where a 1.1 million sq ft Mainland Port Area has been established on land leased to the Mainland authorities until 2047. The Hong Kong Government will charge an annual rent of HK$1,000 and in return the Shenzhen municipal authority is reducing the annual rent which it charges Hong Kong for lease of the 4.4 million sq ft Shenzhen Bay port area in Shekou from 8.1 million RMB to 1,000 RMB.
TUNG CHUNG - TAI O FERRY SERVICE ADDITIONAL SAILINGS TRIAL
With effect from 25th August 2018 a regular "short-working" service of the Fortune Ferry Tuen Mun - Tung Chung - Sha Lo Wan - Tai O ferry service will operate on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays on a trial basis for a period of one year.
The service will operate between Tung Chung and Tai O via Sha Lo Wan but will not extend to Tuen Mun. These sailings are in addition to existing scheduled sailings and depart from Tung Chung at 10-00, 12-00, 14-00 and 16-00 and from Tai O at 11-00, 13-00, 15-00 and 17-00. Sailings call at Sha Lo Wan 15 minutes after departure from Tung Chung and 30 minutes after departure from Tai O.
HONG KONG MONETARY AUTHORITY INFORMATION CENTRE CURRENCY SECTION GIVEN A NEW LOOK
The Currency Section of the Hong Kong Monetary Information Centre has been reopened to the public on 16th August 2018 with a fresh new look.
In light of the launch of the 2018 New Series Hong Kong Banknotes, the Currency Section of the Information Centre has undergone a complete revamp to introduce the design, security features, production process, and other fun facts about Hong Kong currency notes and coins in a more interactive way, including using educational games, multimedia displays and mechanical devices. Apart from exhibiting the notes and coins currently in circulation in Hong Kong, the newly revamped Currency Section also features a new interactive device which displays the electronic images of the designs of Hong Kong currency notes issued over the past 150 years and coins in circulation over the past 60 years. Another spotlight of the redesigned Currency Section is a new art installation "Chanting Notes", a bauhinia tree created with shredded currency notes, which contrasts nicely with another artwork currently exhibited in the Information Centre called "Small Change, Big Ode" that is made up of Hong Kong coins.
Members of the public can visit the Information Centre which is located on the 55th floor of Two International Finance Centre, 8 Finance Street, Central. Opening hours are 10am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, 10am to 1pm Saturday. Closed on Sundays and public holidays. Last entry 20 minutes before closing.
The HKMA Information Centre also affords panoramic views
For further information see;
NEW TRANSPORT AND TRAFFIC MOBILE APP LAUNCHED
A new all-in-one mobile application "HKeMobility" has been launched as one of the initiatives to take forward the Hong Kong Smart City Blueprint.
The Transport Department's three existing mobile applications, "Hong Kong eTransport", "Hong Kong eRouting" and "eTraffic News", are integrated into "HKeMobility", with the user interface improved and new features added. Users can acquire real-time traffic and transport information anytime and anywhere to plan their journeys.
The public can also make use of "HKeMobility" to obtain traffic news with a voice-over function, snapshots of traffic conditions from about 180 CCTV cameras installed at major roads, estimated times of arrival of buses and trams, and parking vacancy information for about 220 car parks. To promote the habit of walking, the walking route search feature, at present covering Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui, will be progressively extended to other districts. "HKeMobility" has also enhanced the walking route searching feature by offering the choice of barrier-free routes for people with visual and mobility disabilities.
"HKeMobility" for Android phones and iPhone are available for free download from Google Play and the App Store respectively. Alternatively, members of the public can download it by scanning a QR code or through the link on the Transport Department's website;
Users of the TD's three existing mobile applications will also receive guidelines on how to download or update to "HKeMobility".
"HKeMobility" mobile application icon
2018 NEW SERIES BANKNOTES
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), and the three note-issuing banks (NIBs) (Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited, Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited and The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited) have announced the issue of the 2018 new series Hong Kong banknotes.
Consistent with the current series, the new series will consist of five denominations, each adopting the same colour scheme. It is the first time that the thematic subjects on the reverse side of the NIBs' new series banknotes are standardised for each denomination to facilitate easy recognition by the public. The selected thematic subjects represent different aspects of Hong Kong as an international metropolis, featuring its rhythm of life, recreation and entertainment, as well as its rich natural and cultural heritage. The five denominations depict respectively the position of Hong Kong as international financial centre (HK$1,000), the Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark (HK$500), Cantonese opera as Hong Kong's art and cultural legacy (HK$100), butterflies that inhabit Hong Kong (HK$50), and the popular dim sum and tea culture (HK$20). For aesthetic presentation of the subject and easy distinction from previous series, the reverse side of the banknote is in vertical orientation instead of the traditional horizontal layout.
The HK$1,000 and HK$500 notes will be put into circulation in the last quarter of 2018 and early 2019 respectively, and the lower denominations of HK$100, HK$50 and HK$20 will be ready for issue in batches between 2019 and 2020.
The new banknotes have incorporated advanced security features. Their placement on the banknotes is uniform across all five denominations. The six key features are:
1. Dynamic shimmering pattern – when the note is tilted, the shimmering ring in the pattern moves correspondingly.
2. Windowed metallic thread – when the note is tilted, the large and small rings on the metallic thread move correspondingly.
3. Enhanced watermark – the theme of the bauhinia flower is used such that the flower, leaves, bud and denomination numeral can be seen when the note is held up to the light.
4. Fluorescent see-through denomination – the patterns on the front and back, which are of a single colour under normal light, will appear as two fluorescent colours when exposed to ultraviolet light. The patterns on the front and back fit perfectly to form the denomination numeral when the note is held up to the light.
5. Concealed denomination – when the note is tilted under the light, the denomination numeral hidden in the background can be seen.
6. Embossed feel – raised printing gives the note a strong embossed feel by touch.
Accessibility features such as braille and tactile lines will continue to be available in the new series for people with visual impairments to differentiate the denominations.
All existing banknotes will continue to be legal tender. They will continue to be in circulation alongside the new banknotes, and will be gradually withdrawn as appropriate in due course.
VISITORS TO HONG KONG TO BE REQUIRED TO DECLARE CASH AMOUNTS OVER HK$120,000
With effect from 16th July 2018 visitors to Hong Kong entering via border control points at Hong Kong International Airport, Lo Wu, Hung Hom Station, Man Kam To, Sha Tau Kok, Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal, China Ferry Terminal, Lok Ma Chau, Lok Ma Chau Spur Line, Tuen Mun Ferry Terminal, Shenzhen Bay Port Hong Kong port area, Kai Tak Cruise Terminal and Ocean Terminal carrying any cash amount exceeding HK$120,000 will be required to use the Red Channel and make a written declaration.
The measure is being imposed under the Cross-boundary Movement of Physical Currency and Bearer Negotiable Instruments Ordinance in order to fulfill Hong Kong's international obligation to implement Recommendation 32 of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for ensuring that terrorists and other criminals cannot finance their activities or launder criminal proceeds through such cross-boundary means. The FATF is an inter-governmental body setting standards on combating money laundering and terrorist financing through 40 recommendations for compliance by member jurisdictions, including Hong Kong.
NEW GREEN MINIBUS TRIAL SERVICE FOR HONG KONG UNESCO GLOBAL GEOPARK
With effect from Sunday 22nd July 2018 a new green minibus route 9A will operate on a trial basis on Sundays and public holidays in Sai Kung Country Park between Pak Tam Chung and the East Dam of High Island Reservoir. The service will operate from 3pm to 6pm at a frequency of 20 to 25 minutes and the fare will be $11.30. The Transport Department will closely monitor passenger demand and will suitably adjust the service if necessary.
The East Dam of High Island Reservoir is located within the Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark, which is a popular tourist attraction for both local and overseas visitors. The route will be reviewed after three months of operation.
HONG KONG TRAMWAYS FARE INCREASE
Hong Kong tram fares have increased from 2nd July 2018. The adult fare has increased from HK$2.3 to HK$2.6 and child and seniors fares have increased by ten cents to HK$1.3 and HK$1.2 respectively. The cost of a monthly ticket has risen from HK$200 to HK$220 but the price of the four-day Tourist Pass remains unchanged at HK$34.
The increase is the first for seven years and has been granted taking into consideration various factors, including the quality and quantity of service provided, planned improvement projects of HKT; the changes in operating costs and revenue since HKT's last fare adjustment; HKT's forecasts of future costs, revenue, profit and return; and public acceptability. Since the last fare adjustment in June 2011, owing to competition from other public transport modes, particularly the MTR Island Line extension to Kennedy Town, its patronage has been decreasing and fare revenue has diminished although daily patronage has now stabilised at about 185,000 passengers. The potential to further increase non-fare box revenue is rather limited. Although HKT made profits between 2011 and 2017, its profit after tax has been decreasing since 2014. HKT's profit after tax in 2016 and 2017 was HK$37.6 million and about HK$22.9 million respectively (the profit margin was about 14.7 % and 9 % respectively). HKT has planned to invest about HK$110 million in the next few years for implementing a series of service improvement projects which will enable the company to provide quality, efficient, cheap and environmentally friendly services. Without a fare increase, HKT estimated that its profit margin would drop to below 2.6% from 2018 and beyond.
IN TOWN CHECK IN FACILITY RESTORED FOR CATHAY PACIFIC FLIGHTS TO USA
Cathay Pacific has announced that in-town check-in facilities at Hong Kong Station and Kowloon Station for passengers travelling on direct flights to the USA have been reopened from 29th June 2018. Passengers can check in and obtain boarding passes from 24 hours until 90 minutes prior to scheduled departure time. US authorities have relaxed part of the current pre-screening interview requirements, allowing passengers joining flights in Hong Kong to undertake the pre-screening interview at the boarding gate rather than at check-in.
The in-town check-in service for direct Cathay Pacific flights to the USA was suspended in October 2017 as a result of enhanced US security measures.
OPENING OF TAI KWUN - CENTRE FOR HERITAGE AND ARTS (Former Central Police Station, Central Magistracy and Victoria Prison Compound)
Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts, Hong Kong's largest heritage conservation and revitalisation project, involving a HK$3.8 billion renovation of the historic Central Police Station, Central Magistracy and Victoria Prison compound dating back to between 1824 and 1925 and construction of new contemporary buildings, partially opened to the public on 29th May 2018. Eleven of the sixteen heritage buildings on the site are now open with the remaining buildings expected to open later in the year except Married Inspectors Quarters for which renovation has been delayed by a wall collapse in 2016.
The façade of the renovated Central Police Station on Hollywood Road, one of the historic buildings now open to the public at Tai Kwun - Centre for Heritage and Arts
For further information see WHAT'S NEW.
Tai Kwun website;
HONG KONG MUSEUM OF MEDICAL SCIENCES SPECIAL OPENING HOURS
Owing to piling works taking place at Seymour Road in Mid-Levels, Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences is currently affected by noise and vibration. For safety reasons, with effect from 15th May 2018 until further notice the museum opening hours will be as follows;
Tuesdays to Fridays 9-30am to 11-30am and 12-30pm to 4-15pm
Saturdays 9-30am to 2pm
Sundays and public holidays 1pm to 5pm
During this period half-price admission will apply.
HONG KONG SPACE MUSEUM NEW EXHIBITION HALLS OPENED
The new exhibition halls of Hong Kong Space Museum, namely the Hall of the Cosmos and the Hall of Space Exploration, which focus on astronomy and space science respectively, opened to the public on 25th April 2018, introducing a total of over 100 new exhibits. The previous exhibition halls had become outdated and closed in 2015.
Covering a total area of 1,600 square metres, the two exhibition halls showcase exhibits, of which about 70 per cent are of interactive design. With the aid of advanced equipment coupled with lighting effects and environmental decorations, the exhibition halls aim to take audiences on a journey of discovery allied to extra sensory perception.
The Hall of the Cosmos explores the evolution of the universe, from the solar system where Earth is located to the myriad stars, Milky Way and distant galaxies. Among fun-filled interactive exhibits, "Aurora" allows visitors to adjust the strength of "solar wind" inside a vacuum tube to create a mini-aurora, while "Icy Bodies" creates comets with dry ice to simulate their jet streams and movement. In "Gravity Surfing", visitors can stand on surf boards for a simulated adventure through different celestial objects to help them better understand the warping of space by gravity.
In the Hall of Space Exploration, which depicts the development of space exploration and space technology, visitors are able to enter an upside-down virtual space station to experience the disoriented sensation of being in a weightless environment. They can also try a simulated launch of a Long March 2F rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. A 3D photo effect is also provided for visitors to experience how it feels to be inside a re-entry capsule.
In order to provide a better visiting experience, admission to the exhibition halls will be arranged in sessions with limited quotas. Members of the public are advised to plan their visits in advance.
For further information see the museum website;
MTR FARE ADJUSTMENT
In accordance with the Fare Adjustment Mechanism (FAM) formula, agreed with the Hong Kong government, and taking into account an adjustment offered by MTR Corporation outside of the FAM formula the overall fare adjustment for the twelve month period commencing June 2018 amounts to an increase of 3.14%. However, since MTR agreed in 2017 to provide a 3% rebate for Octopus Card users for at least six months in each fiscal year until 2022/23 it is unlikely that there will be any increase in fares for Octopus users during the calendar year 2018. MTR is to calculate changes to individual fares using the overall fare adjustment of 3.14% and will make a formal announcement at a later date.
"SAFEGUARD HK" HIKER TRACKING SERVICE
Hong Kong's Security Bureau Security has launched an updated version of the mobile application "Safeguard HK", featuring a new hiker tracking function to better protect hikers, as well as commonly used travel phrases in eight additional languages.
When a user of the "Safeguard HK" mobile app activates the "Hiker Tracking" function and registers his or her mobile phone number, the app will track and record the user's locations using GPS in the next 24 hours. In the event that the user gets lost or is reported missing, the emergency rescue teams of the Fire Services Department and the Hong Kong Police Force may search for the user with information recorded to expedite the rescue operation. The GPS data will be erased automatically after seven days if no incident has been reported. The "Hiker Tracking" function is provided by the Communications Association of Hong Kong. The registered mobile phone number must be a Hong Kong number and visitors will need a local SIM card to be able to register.
In addition, the "Safeguard HK" mobile app has introduced eight additional languages to its collection of commonly used travel phrases, bringing the total number of languages of useful travel phrases with auto speech function to 20, namely Arabic, Czech, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Putonghua, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai and Turkish. The travel phrases cover daily life and emergency situations to facilitate users' communication with locals during travel.
"Safeguard HK" mobile app is a one-stop platform providing useful information on safety in daily life and during travel. "Safeguard HK" can be downloaded for free through the Apple App Store and Google Play. For further information see;
REFURBISHMENT OF CENTRAL - MID-LEVELS ESCALATOR AND WALKWAY SYSTEM
A complete refurbishment of the Central - Mid-Levels and Walkway System is to be undertaken over a four year period commencing in March 2018. During this sections of the system will be temporarily closed at various times to enable the work to be carried out. The system opened in 1993 and carries about 70,000 pedestrians daily. Full details of the affected areas can be found at the link below;
SMART DEPARTURE SERVICE EXTENDED TO 11 FURTHER BORDER CONTROL POINTS
Following the launch in October of the self-service departure (Smart Departure) arrangement for visitors to Hong Kong entering via Hong Kong International Airport, the Immigration Department is extending the service to the following other control points with effect from 18th December 2017;
Lok Ma Chau Spur Line
Lok Ma Chau
Man Kam To
Sha Tau Kok
China Ferry Terminal
Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal
Tuen Mun Ferry Terminal
Kai Tak Cruise Terminal
Photos of visitors will be taken at arrival clearance counters to assist in authenticating their identity through face recognition technology. Smart Departure aims to provide greater travel convenience for visitors while enhancing the effectiveness of immigration control. The arrangement is not applicable to Hong Kong residents and, for visitors who have enrolled for the e-Channel service, immigration arrangements will remain unchanged.
Smart Departure employs face recognition technology for identity verification, which facilitates self-service departure for visitors. Visitors aged 11 or above who hold valid electronic travel documents compliant with the International Civil Aviation Organization's requirements, and issued by designated countries or regions as announced by the ImmD, may perform self-service departure clearance through Smart Departure e-Channels at control points without prior enrolment.
Under existing arrangements, all arriving visitors are issued with landing slips. On completion of arrival clearance at immigration counters, the landing slips of visitors eligible for using the Smart Departure service will additionally bear the Smart Departure logo.
Landing slip bearing Smart Departure logo
For further information see;
SYMPHONY OF LIGHTS REVAMP
With effect from 1st December 2017 the “A Symphony of Lights” nightly light and sound show is to be updated for the first time since its inception in 2004. The new version of the show, which features light and laser displays from buildings on both sides of Victoria Harbour and synchronised music, is ten minutes duration, four minutes shorter than the existing show and the number of participating buildings is reduced from 43 to 40 with some new buildings including the government offices at Tamar being included and others dropping out. The show has a new soundtrack featuring the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and is claimed to be more energy-efficient than the existing show.
Scene from the updated Symphony of Lights
FIRST GENERATION OCTOPUS CARDS TO BECOME INVALID
Octopus Cards Limited has announced that all First Generation On-Loan Octopus Cards will become invalid by 2019. A replacement programme for replacement of 2 million cards, first issued in 1997, was initiated on a voluntary basis in August 2015 but some 1.2 million cards had not been replaced by the time the final call for replacement was made. Replacement will be phased in batches and cards in each batch will receive a three beep sound when using the card as a prompt to replace the card. The prompt is in effect for three months, with the first batch of cards receiving prompts from 18th October 2017 and needing to be replaced by 20th January 2018. Replacement is free and cards can be replaced at self-service Octopus Service Points, MTR Customer Service Centres and designated Kowloon Motor Bus Customer Service Centres. To encourage card holders to use self-service Octopus Service Points a new design On-Loan Octopus Card featuring the new corporate logo is available exclusively from these service points.
New design adult On-loan Octopus Card available exclusively to First Generation card holders who replace them at self-service Octopus Service Points
First Generation On-Loan Octopus Cards were designed and manufactured before the establishment of Near Field Communication (NFC) standards and do not have the same functions such as compatibility with smartphone apps or level of security as later editions.
For further details see;
HONG KONG OBSERVATION WHEEL TO REOPEN
The Hong Kong Observation Wheel (HKOW), which has been closed to the public since 30th August 2017 is to reopen under new operator The Entertainment Corporation Limited (TECL) on 20th December 2017.
The 60-metre diameter wheel at Central Harbourfront was opened in December 2014 and was previously operated by Swiss AEX Holding Limited. TECL have been awarded a three year tenancy for the site following a government tender earlier in 2017 but a dispute between the two companies over terms of handover of the wheel resulted in its closure. TECL has partnered with AIA Insurance Group in reopening the attraction which is developing the adjacent AIA Vitality Park which will host a number of wellness and health related events from 2018. Admission to the park will be free and admission for the wheel will be at a much reduced price of HK$20 with concessions for seniors and free rides for children under 3.
HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT SMART DEPARTURE
Self-service departure for visitors to Hong Kong (Smart Departure) is to be launched at Hong Kong International Airport on 10th October 2017 and photos of visitors will be taken at arrival clearance counters to assist in authenticating their identities through face recognition technology. Smart Departure aims to provide greater travel convenience for visitors while enhancing the effectiveness of immigration control. The above arrangement is not applicable to Hong Kong residents.
Smart Departure employs face recognition technology for identity verification, which facilitates self-service departure for visitors. Visitors aged 11 or above who hold valid electronic travel documents compliant with the International Civil Aviation Organization's requirements, and issued by designated countries or regions as announced by the Immigration Department will be able to perform self-service departure clearance through Smart Departure e-Channels without prior enrolment.
According to the existing arrangement, all arriving visitors will be issued with landing slips. Upon completion of arrival clearance at immigration counters, the landing slips of eligible visitors will additionally bear the Smart Departure logo;
For visitors who have enrolled for the e-Channel service, immigration arrangements will remain unchanged.
The Immigration Department is also install cameras at arrival clearance counters to take real-time photos of visitors, which will be compared with the photos in their travel documents through face recognition technology for the purpose of identity verification.
Smart Departure will later be extended in phases to other control points.
For full details see;
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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;
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;
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
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.
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.
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
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
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;
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.
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;
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
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.
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 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
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.