According to Framework Agreement on Hong Kong/Guangdong Cooperation, Guangdong Tourism Association will aim to promote the setting up of solo founded or joint venture travel agencies owned by Hong Kong investors for operating mainland residents outbound travel business, meanwhile guide Hong Kong service providers to establish travel companies in free trade zones and expedite the completion of cooperative tourism projects including establishing the information management system for 144 hours visa-free tours for foreign visitors.
Accelerating the application of information management system for 144 hours visa-free tours for foreign visitors will lay the foundation for implementing the convenient 144 hours visa-free policy in the whole province. This convenient 144 hours visa-free policy is known to have launched in the Pearl River delta and the coastal city of Shantou in 2000. Zhuang weiguang, the director of Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences Tourism Research Center, declared there is still further way to go in expanding this policy and promoting mainland residents outbound travel business operated by Hong Kong travel agencies this year(excluding to Taiwan).
There has always been a policy barrier in outbound travel business of domestic foreign-owned travel agencies, in 2011, State Tourism Administration said give more freedom in outbound travel operation to foreign-owned travel agencies at the end of the year. Along with unlashing the right of outbound travel operation, more foreign-owned travel agencies will enter into the mainland market and more domestic travel agencies will take a hit. It’s been 4 years now, but foreign-owned travel agencies with qualifications for outbound travel is not so much.
Hong Kong is more internationalized and its tourism industry is more mature, Hong Kong travel agencies have much experience worthy of learning for travel agencies in mainland. Hong Kong-invested tour companies is allowed to operate outbound travel business, which will be a good starting point for achieving win-win cooperation on travel service of Guangdong and Hong Kong. Although the entry of foreign-owned companies into outbound travel market will inevitably involve pain for domestic travel agencies, it is conducive to healthy and orderly tourism market for the long road ahead.