Mainland China has agreed to limit the number of its citizens that travel to Hong Kong, amid growing discontent in the former British colony.
Xinhua reported a spokesperson for the State Council’s Hong Kong & Macao Affairs Office as saying on Monday that residents of the border city of Shenzhen wanting to travel to Hong Kong can now only make “one visit a week”.
Previously Shenzhen residents were offered ‘multiple re-entry’ into Hong Kong, meaning they could make an unlimited number of cross-border trips.
In addition, the maximum length-of-stay for Shenzhen citizens in Hong Kong is now seven days.
The spokesperson said the adjustment followed “appeals by the Hong Kong… government”, and would be “conducive to the steady exchange of personnel between the mainland and Hong Kong”.
Hong Kong has experienced a surge of mainland arrivals in recent years, reaching more than 47 million in 2014. Mainland Chinese now accounts for almost 80% of all visitors to Hong Kong, and their influence has led to a doubling of inbound visitor numbers to the city over the last decade.
However a number of recent anti-mainland protests have taken place in Hong Kong recently, including some in shopping malls, amid signs of growing local discontent about the cross-border influx.
Responding to the decision, the Hong Kong Tourism Board said “the policy adjustment will not have a significant impact on the number of overnight visitors to Hong Kong”, but that it may impact the retail and catering sectors.
In the first two months of 2015, more than nine million mainland Chinese travelled to Hong Kong, 16% more than in the same period last year.
This story was updated on Monday 13 April 2015