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3.4 mln expected to cross HK land checkpoints during `golden week`

Hong Kong`s Immigration Department said on Monday that an estimated 3.4 million people will cross the…

Hong Kong`s Immigration Department said on Monday that an estimated 3.4 million people will cross the HK land checkpoints to and from the Chinese mainland during the coming National Day holidays, representing an increase of 34.3 percent as compared with the same period last year.

A spokesman for the Immigration Department said Monday that the peak period of cross-boundary traffic during the National Day holidays will fall between October 1 and Octoctober 7, 2003.

It is estimated about 2.4 million passengers (daily average of 302,000) will cross the boundary via Lo Wu checkpoint. It represents an increase of 17.1 percent when compared with the corresponding period of last year.

During the festive period, the number of departing passengers at Lo Wu may reach a peak of 230,000 on October 4 while the peak of arrivals will be on Oct. 5 with 220,000 people returning to Hong Kong. The highest daily traffic is expected to reach 370,000 on October 4, 2003.

The passenger traffic at Lok Ma Chau checkpoint during the festive period will also be very heavy with a forecast of 719,000 passengers (daily average of 90,000). The peak of departures is expected to fall on October 4 with about 54,000 people departing for Shenzhen, and the arrival peak will be on October 5 with about 56,000 people returning to Hong Kong.

The National Day holidays is described as golden week in the Chinese mainland. With the relaxation of Hong Kong immigration policy on Chinese mainland group tour visitors last year, coupled with the current introduction of Chinese Mainland Individual Visit Scheme in July, it is anticipated that the numbers of Mainland visitors coming on group tour and on individual basis will increase considerably.

As estimated, about 60,000 to 80,000 Chinese mainland individual visitors will enter Hong Kong during the golden week, while about 19,000 mainland group visitors will arrive between October 1 and October 4, this year. Of them majority will come via Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau control points, the spokesman added.

To cope with the traffic demands, the Immigration Department has arranged 266 officers to reinforce the land boundary checkpoints during the festive period through internal deployment.

To ensure smooth arrival of Chinese mainland group tour passengers, the Immigration Department had, in conjunction with the Police, the Customs and Excise Department, the Transport Department, the Tourism Commission, the Hong Kong Tourism Board, the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Hotels Association, taken a series of special measures and arrangements.

With a view to enhancing the efficiency of immigration clearance on visitors at Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau control points, the Immigration Department has introduced the new `Expeditious Immigration Clearance System` on September 22 to further automate the clearance with the concept of self-service.

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