19th February, 2014
Optimal Capacity vs Maximum Capacity
From the constant dispute between Hong Kongers and Chinese tourists, to the 50 million of tourists (the majority is from China) coming to Hong Kong every year, Hong Kong citizens know that Hong Kong have had more than enough. Controlling the number of tourists is a burning issue, yet the government fails to realize the seriousness of the situation and wants to increase Hong Kong’s capacity (to accommodate more tourists) without acknowledge it is not a mission that can be done in a blink. Increasing the capacity is not the difficult part, but to achieve an optimal capacity takes long term plan and vision. Focusing sheering on the number will only bring sufferings to Hong Kongers, in fact, tourists would not be able to enjoy either.
As a travel addict, I wish to experience the local culture and scenery wherever I visit. Even in Hong Kong, a place where I live, I often look at it from a tourist perspective. Discounting the smugglers who come to Hong Kong using tourist visa and those tourists who join “$0 tour groups”, any ordinary tourist would like to experience the differences, may it be food, scenery or culture. If where one visit is exactly the same as where one you live, what is the point of travelling? To Chinese tourists, the “foreign-feeling” of Hong Kong is weakening.
On Canton Road where luxury shops are concentrated, all they can see are their own people. When they shop, the sales representatives are speaking in Mandarin (Hong Kong’s local languages are Cantonese and English). If cheap shopping is the only attraction, it is no different from an outlet – no wonder many call Hong Kong is only a giant shopping mall (to Chinese). With the influx of Chinese tourists, Hong Kong’s retail sector has been changed and become a sector that services only the Chinese tourists instead of Hong Kongers. In the name of “maximising profit”, retail sector in Hong Kong has lost its characters. In the long run, Hong Kong will become less exotic and worthless – what is left behind will be a concrete jungle, which is a loss-loss situation.
Any facilities, including theme parks and museums, with good management will impose crowd control measures. They understand the optimal (not maximum) capacity of their facilities, and that an overcrowding environment will not bring a comfortable experience to visitors. To ensure all visitors have an enjoyable experience and maintain the facility’s quality, one has to compromise on capacity. Limiting the number of visitors may seem unfriendly from the surface, but to limit the traffic in order to maintain the quality of service is in fact respecting the visitors. No tourist would like to pay for transportation and spend their precious time to visit a destination that brings endless crowd and the feeling of restlessness.
A close example is highly rated restaurant: many tables can be set in such a large space, and the chefs can speed up the cooking in order increase their “capacity”. However, they earned their reputation by ensuring the quality of food and environment for their customers – sufficient space for customers to enjoy the delicacies that are prepared by the chefs with cautions and attention. Customers can enjoy the meal, whilst the chefs can enjoy cooking – a win-win situation. Although the customers who cannot book a table will be disappointed, but it is better for them to be disappointed than to find themselves being packed into a tiny table like sardines and not being able to enjoy a meal.
Hong Kongers welcome tourists, but there has to be a limit on the degree of interruption. By boosting the number of tourists without a limit and allowing more and more hotels and tourists spots to be built, a population misbalance has been created causing discontent amongst the local Hong Kongers and tourists cannot enjoy their trip. Because of the influx of Chinese tourists and the tension, very often Taiwanese, Singapore and Malaysian tourists often feel being rejected by the locals when they speak in Mandarin. Discrimination is not acceptable, but we must realise that such “discrimination” is caused by the government’s lack of respect for tourism (which interrupted the locals’ daily lives). Lack of respect for tourists’ experience, ignore the locals’ feelings, and turn around to blame the tourists and locals for their emotions to fuel the confrontation. Even if the government tries to comfort the citizens, it only makes the people angrier about the situation. The only way to resolve the issue is to abandon the ideal of an “unlimited expansion (of tourism)” and find out the optimal capacity of Hong Kong to ensure a truly enjoyable experience for tourists.
The greedy government thinks that it owns Hong Kong and tried to maximise everything within, whilst the ordinary citizens get told off for asking their peaceful lives back. If I was a tourist, I would not even want to step foot in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is just like an over a hundred year old shop full of character and shines like a star. However, after the shop was sold to another owner, within 17 years, it has become cheap and worthless. This is a shame. I urge the Hong Kong government officials to go to Lantau Island on their next holiday instead of going overseas as usual, enjoy a walk in the country side, and learn to appreciate and cherish Hong Kong, their beautiful home.