China adds cities to the IVS list

HONG KONG, 17 May 2024: Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) welcomes the central government’s announcement to add eight mainland cities to the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS). 

The expansion of the IVS is expected to strengthen air connections between Hong Kong and the eight cities, further boosting air traffic and passenger volume at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA).

Hong Kong’s Midfield Concourse.

Four of the eight additional cities under the IVS have direct flight connections with HKIA. They are Taiyuan in Shanxi Province, Lanzhou in Gansu Province, Yinchuan in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Urumqi in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. 

With a keen eye on the future, airlines plan to start scheduled flights to and from Harbin in Heilongjiang Province and add more flights to and from Urumqi in June 2024. 

Airlines are expected to increase direct flights connecting Hong Kong to those cities as ties are strengthened and economic activities increased.

The Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) is a programme the Chinese government implements that allows residents of certain mainland Chinese cities to visit Hong Kong and Macau independently. Before the IVS, mainland residents could only travel to these regions on business visas or as part of organised group tours.

The IVS was launched in July 2003 and has been credited with boosting the economies of Hong Kong and Macau through tourism spending. However, the programme has also been controversial, with some residents of these regions expressing concerns about overcrowding and the impact on local resources.

The latest additions to the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) are expected to impact tourism in Hong Kong and Macau positively.

Increased visitor numbers:  Adding new cities to the program means more mainland Chinese residents are eligible for independent travel. This should increase overall visitor numbers, benefiting sectors like hotels, restaurants, and retail.

Boost for specific demographics:  The expansion is expected to attract more mid-market and higher-end visitors who travel independently rather than in tour groups. This could benefit businesses catering to these demographics.

Spread the benefits: By including new cities, the scheme can encourage visitors to explore a wider range of destinations within Hong Kong and Macau, not just the usual tourist hotspots. This can distribute the economic benefits more evenly.

Potential challenges

Infrastructure strain: A visitor surge could pressure public transportation and other infrastructure, requiring adjustments and improvements.

Air travel capacity: Increased visitors will add pressure to match demand with more flights between the newly added mainland cities and Hong Kong and Macau airports. 


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