For information on exhibitions see CURRENT EXHIBITIONS
For information on future developments see WHAT'S PLANNED
For information on new attractions/developments see WHAT'S NEW
For information on new, future and renamed hotels see NEW AND FUTURE HOTELS
CANTONESE OPERA DAY 30th NOVEMBER 2014
Hong Kong's 12th Cantonese Opera Day, organised by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department will take place on Sunday November 30th 2014 at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre. The annual event, with free admission, offers a varied programme for Cantonese opera lovers and other members of the public including tourists presenting an insight into the colourful world of Cantonese opera as well as photo opportunities.
The programme starts at 1pm, including the performance of Cantonese opera excerpts and Cantonese operatic songs by young Cantonese opera artists including children, and "Young Artists' Chat Room", to be held by promising Cantonese opera performers Wong Kit-ching, Hong Wah, Nam Tin-yau and Tam Wing-lun. Other activities such as talks; demonstration workshops on stylised movements and posture, make-up and costume, singing style and percussion in Cantonese opera; and game stalls will be held. An exhibition entitled "Discovering the Cantonese Opera Heritage" and an autograph session by Cantonese opera stars will also be available. To enable overseas and Mainland visitors to understand more about the activities, there will be guided tours (to be conducted in English and Putonghua) on the day.
Since 2003, the cultural sectors of Guangdong, Macau and Hong Kong have designated the last Sunday of every November as Cantonese Opera Day to promote the development of the valuable vernacular art of Cantonese opera. By staging this territory-wide activity on a regular basis, it is hoped that a broader audience base can be built to carry the torch of Cantonese opera for future generations. Cantonese Opera Day has been well received, and thousands of people have participated in a variety of programmes across the city in the past decade.
Many other related events will be held at various LCSD venues in support of Cantonese Opera Day. For full details of the programme see;
HONG KONG DISNEYLAND TICKET PRICE INCREASE
Hong Kong Disneyland has announced revised ticket prices with effect from 11th November 2014. A 1-day ticket now costs HK$499 for adults and HK$355 for child (3-11), increased from HK$450 and HK$320 respectively. 2-day tickets cost HK$680 for adults and HK$480 for child, increased from HK$585 and HK$415 respectively. There is no increase in ticket prices for seniors (65 and over). The revised ticket prices for travel agents, wholesalers and Hong Kong residents do not take effect until 10th January 2015.
Ticket prices were last increased on 27th March 2013.
MOST COURTEOUS IMMIGRATION OFFICER CAMPAIGN 2014
Hong Kong Immigration Department is inviting travellers to vote in the annual courtesy campaign at the ten immigration control points. The campaign is being conducted from 17th to 23rd November 2014 to encourage staff to provide courteous and efficient services to the public and help promote Hong Kong tourism.
Travellers are encouraged to vote for officers who perform commendable immigration clearance services. They can obtain a ballot form from the staff, fill in their own name, their travel document or Hong Kong identity card number, the date and the officer's name, and then put the form into one of the ballot boxes placed behind the immigration counters at the control point.
With the wide use of the e-Channel service at immigration control points, e-Channel users can also vote for staff members who offer commendable services in assisting them to use the automated service.
The campaign will be publicised at immigration control points during the voting period. The Immigration Control Officer with the highest number of votes will be appointed as a Hong Kong Courtesy Ambassador by the Hong Kong Tourism Board.
Visitors arriving in Hong Kong will have the opportunity to vote for Most Courteous Immigration Officer
HONG KONG PULSE 3D LIGHT SHOW
Hong Kong Pulse 3D Light Show, a new event organised by Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), is to be shown four times each evening during three time periods to
enhance the festive ambience of three HKTB mega events;
29th October 2014 to 16th November 2014 covering the CCB (Asia) Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival
17th to 29th December 2014 covering the Hong Kong WinterFest
14th February 2015 to 5th March 2015, (excluding 19th February the first day of Chinese New Year) during the Chinese New Year period
Produced by Spinifex Group, a prestigious Australian overseas production team, the spectacle is created by images projected on to the façade of Hong Kong Cultural Centre and Clock Tower and is based on the theme of Hong Kong as a vibrant, cosmopolitan city, and shows how it evolved through the years into the major world city it is today through striking visuals, including uniquely local buildings.
Spinifex Group’s Head of Creative, Richard Lindsay, has over 20 years’ experience in the design industry and has been involved in numerous international creative media shows, including the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, in which he collaborated with famed Chinese film director Zhang Yimou; the 2010 Shanghai World Expo; the 2010Vancouver Winter Olympics; and the 2013 edition of the Sydney Opera House light show in “Vivid Sydney”.
The show lasts about 15 minutes and takes place at 8-30pm, 9pm, 9-30pm and 10pm during the periods indicated above at the`Open Piazza, Hong Kong Cultural Centre.
The show will feature a theme song, which will be played during the show at the venue and on a number of radio channels, namely FM103.4 MHz, FM106.8 MHz, and FM107.9 MHz.
For further information see the HKTB website;
Pulse 3D Light Show projected on to the façade of Hong Kong Cultural Centre
DISCOVERY BAY TAXI RESTRICTIONS EASED
Restrictions on taxi access to part of Discovery Bay have been relaxed with effect from 26th October 2014 after the Transport Department gave consent to allow urban (red) and Lantau (blue) taxis to serve Discovery Bay North in the vicinity of Auberge Hotel, DB North Plaza and Yi Pak. Discovery Bay developer HKRI will waive tunnel fees for taxis. Taxis will not, however, be allowed access to other areas of Discovery Bay. The Transport Department has also agreed to allow tourist coaches access the same areas of Discovery Bay.
Discovery Bay was served exclusively by ferry until 2000 when a tunnel connecting the development with the North Lantau Highway was opened. Since then, HKRI has also operated external bus services to Tung Chung, Hong Kong International Airport and Sunny Bay Station.
Taxi rank opposite Auberge hotel at Discovery Bay North
THREE HISTORIC TEMPLES DECLARED MONUMENTS
Three historic temples have been declared as monuments in October 2014 under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance. Lin Fa Temple in Tai Hang, Hung Shing Temple in Ap Lei Chau and Hau Wong Temple in Kowloon City are all currently managed by the Chinese Temples Committee.
LIN FA TEMPLE was believed to have been constructed in 1863. It is not only the oldest Kwun Yam Temple on Hong Kong Island, but is also an important historic landmark in the Tai Hang area and has a strong association with the Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance. On the 14th day of the eighth lunar month every year, the "fire dragon" (made of joss sticks arranged in a dragon-shaped form) is first blessed by Kwun Yam (the Goddess of Mercy) of Lin Fa Temple before the fire dragon is paraded throughout the Tai Hang area. This traditional event, which has a history of over one hundred years, was inscribed onto China's Third National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2011. The architecture of Lin Fa Temple is unique. The front hall is in half-octagonal shape with a double-eaves-tended roof. Different from other two-hall Chinese temples which have a courtyard in between, the front hall of Lin Fa Temple is connected to its main (rear) hall without an internal courtyard in between. Access to the temple is through two staircases on the left and right ends of the front hall, unlike the design of other conventional Chinese temples which have a main entrance in the middle of the facade. There are still many relics kept in the temple, such as Shiwan ceramic figurines (1863) on the main ridge, a granite crafted offering table (1864), a temple bell (1865) and a wooden caimen (1909).
Lin Fa Temple at Tai Hang
HUNG SHING TEMPLE in Ap Lei Chau was probably built by the local community in 1773 for the worship of Hung Shing, a popular deity protecting fishermen and marine traders. It is one of the very few traditional temples with exquisite craftsmanship that still keeps its original sea-orientated fung shui setting and close association with the local community. It has been the main temple in Ap Lei Chau since its establishment. The Hung Shing Festival, which takes place on the 13th day of the second lunar month every year, is still widely celebrated every year by both the land-based and boat-based populations in the area with offerings, procession of the statues of Hung Shing and other deities, lion and dragon dances, traditional Chaozhou music and Cantonese opera performances and other ritual activities. The temple is a typical Qing vernacular two-hall-three-bay building, with a courtyard covered with a pavilion in-between the two halls and two side chambers on its left and right. The temple is widely decorated with exquisite historic Shiwan ceramic figurines and fine wood carvings, particular those on the wooden brackets of the covered courtyard and the parapet walls of the chambers on both sides of the internal courtyard. The vivid ceramic figurines of the God of the Sun and Goddess of the Moon at the end of the gable ridges of the entrance hall are also very impressive. In front of the temple, there are two timber poles painted with a dragon pattern which are rare in Hong Kong. Locals call them "dragon poles", and it is believed that they were erected for protecting the fung shui of the area.
Hung Shing Temple at Ap Lei Chau
HAU WONG TEMPLE in Kowloon City is not only the main temple in the area, but also one of very few temples in Hong Kong still keeping a rich collection of historic relics related to the Kowloon Walled City. The exact year of construction of Hau Wong Temple is not known. With reference to the temple bell which was cast in the 8th year of Yongzheng's reign (1730) of the Qing dynasty, the temple was probably built in or before 1730. Hau Wong Temple was patronised by Qing officials and soldiers when the Kowloon Walled City was still in existence and guarding the territories between 1847 and 1899. A stone tablet engraved in the 9th year of Xianfeng's reign (1859) in the temple indicates a donation by officials from the offices of the Assistant Magistrate of Kowloon and Dapeng Brigade for the renovation of the temple. Other relics like the incense burner donated by Xu Wenshen, the first Assistant Magistrate of Kowloon, in 1847, and a number of timber plaques donated by the military officials of the Kowloon Walled City are still kept in the temple. The most famous relic is the stone inscription of the Chinese character for crane dated 1888 at the back of the temple. The Hau Wong Temple compound consists of the main temple building with later added side chambers, pavilions and stone inscriptions, all standing on a terrace with granite steps leading to the ground level. There is a detached pavilion with hip-and-gable roof supported by granite columns and wooden brackets awkwardly standing in front of the temple. The temple is a two-hall-one-courtyard Chinese vernacular building with later added side chambers at its right. The internal courtyard of the side chambers is decorated with exquisite Shiwan ceramic figurines. The stepped gables of the rear hall in the style of "five peaks paying tribute to heaven" is a very rare design and seldom found in Hong Kong.
Main entrance of Hau Wong Temple, Kowloon City
HEALTH SURVEILLANCE QUESTIONNAIRE INTRODUCED AT HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
In view of the current situation regarding overseas outbreaks of Ebola virus disease (EVD), a Health Surveillance Questionnaire has been introduced at Hong Kong from 20th October 2014 to enhance health surveillance of arriving passengers from the EVD-affected countries. EVD-affected countries include Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Equateur Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Passengers arriving at the airport will be invited to complete the Health Surveillance Questionnaire if he or she has travelled to EVD-affected countries in the past 21 days or holds a travel document issued by the above EVD-affected countries. These passengers will then be requested to fill in their personal information, travel history, health status and contact history with EVD patients.
To facilitate the implementation of the new measure, counters have been set up in the airport arrival hall before immigration clearance. Arriving passengers who fulfill the criteria are invited to approach the counter and fill in the questionnaire. The completed questionnaire can be passed to the DH's Port Health Office (PHO) staff at the counter.
If the arriving passengers, in the past 21 days, have travelled to those EVD-affected countries with any symptoms of EVD, or have come into contact with any suspected or confirmed patients of EVD, or an EVD patient's dead body, blood, secretions, organs or body fluid, the PHO's officers will perform further assessment and refer them to the Hospital Authority Infectious Disease Centre (HAIDC) in Princess Margaret Hospital for examination.
To enhance dissemination of relevant information to travellers, the Department of Health (DH) has been delivering updated EVD-related health promotion messages to travellers through health leaflets and broadcasts at the airport and other boundary control points (BCPs) as well as the Travel Health Service website;
The DH has been requesting airlines through the Airline Operators Committee to broadcast the health message on all incoming flights to alert travellers about the disease. In addition, regular updates to the airlines, the tourism industry and relevant stakeholders at BCPs are being provided through meetings, briefings and correspondences.
Immigration officers at all BCPs will also assist in identifying incoming passengers holding travel documents issued by the affected countries and provide them with information sheets about EVD. The information sheets remind sick travellers to approach port health personnel immediately if they are already sick upon arrival. If these travellers develop symptoms during their visit to Hong Kong, they should call 999 to arrange for consultation at an Accident and Emergency Department.
Temperature screening using thermal imaging scanners is already in place at all BCPs for all arriving travellers. Any febrile travellers will be further assessed. Surveillance of sick travellers has been enhanced and all suspected cases identified at the airport and other BCPs will be referred to the HAIDC.
Signboards have been erected at eight strategic locations in major walkways where arriving passengers pass through
CCB (ASIA) HONG KONG WINE AND DINE FESTIVAL
The CCB (Asia) Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival runs from 30th October until 30th November 2014. The four day Wine and Dine Festival Opening event from 30th October until 2nd November which was to have been held at Central Waterfront Promenade has been relocated to Kai Tak Cruise Terminal owing to uncertainties relating to traffic conditions in the vicinity relating to protests.
The festival opening will feature at least 260 exhibitors and 15 Michelin-starred restaurants. Representatives of 50 wine estates, including Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Chateau Latour, Chateau Guiraud, Sassicaia and Antinori will be present and there will be five regional pavilions representing Europe and France, Latin America, Japan, Italy and Georgia and a Bordeaux red wine village. There will also be zones for everyday wines, sparkling wines and new exhibitors including Portugal, Greece and Israel. Admission is free but visitors must purchase wine passes for tastings.
Free shuttle buses to Kai Tak will operate from East Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon Tong and Lam Tin MTR stations. KMB bus service 5R will operate from Ngau Tau Kok MTR Station and green minibus 86 operates to Kai Tak Cruise Terminal from Kowloon Bay MTR Station (Telford Gardens).
Throughout the month long festival there are numerous events throughout Hong Kong including wine appreciation seminars, masterchef classes, street parties, 3D light show and dining offers. For full details see;
LAST POSTING DATES FOR CHRISTMAS 2014 AIR MAIL
Hongkong Post has announced last posting dates for air mail sent from Hong Kong to international destinations. To ensure delivery before Christmas items should be posted before the relevant dates;
HERITAGE FIESTA 2014
Heritage Fiesta 2014, organised by Commissioner for Heritage's Office (CHO) of the Development Bureau, was launched on 6th October 2014 and runs until 30th November 2014.
Organised by the Commissioner for Heritage's Office and supported by the Antiquities and Monuments Office, the Hong Kong Tourism Board and the Airport Authority Hong Kong, Heritage Fiesta 2014 features 11 churches and 11 temples which are either declared monuments or graded buildings.
Many historic churches and temples in Hong Kong are well preserved and the event presents an opportunity for the public to understand and appreciate churches in different architectural styles and traditional Chinese temples.
All participating historic buildings will be open to the public free of charge during specific opening hours.
Participating churches are;
Canossian Missions Chapel
Chinese Rhenish Church Hong Kong
Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui All Saints' Cathedral
Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui Holy Trinity Cathedral
Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui St John's Cathedral
Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui St. Mary's Church
Kowloon Union Church
St. Teresa's Church
Ss. Peter and Paul Church
Tsung Tsin Mission of Hong Kong Kau Yan Church
Participating temples are;
Hau Wong Temple Compound, Kowloon City
Hung Shing Temple, Ap Lei Chau
I Shing Temple, Wang Chau, Yuen Long
Kwun Yam Temple, Hung Hom
Lin Fa Temple, Tai Hang
Lo Pan Temple, Kennedy Town
Man Mo Temple Compound, Sheung Wan
Sam Tai Tsz Temple & Pak Tai Temple, Sham Shui Po
Tam Kung Sin Sing Temple, Shau Kei Wan
Tin Hau Temple, Causeway Bay
Yuk Hui Temple, Wan Chai
Exhibitions displaying photos of featured historic buildings will be held at Pacific Place in Admiralty from 7th to 12th October and at Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre in Kowloon Park from 14th to 29th October.
Complimentary pamphlets on Heritage Fiesta 2014 will be available at the featured historic buildings and the exhibition venues during the event period, Hong Kong Museum of History in Tsim Sha Tsui, the Museum of Tea Ware in Hong Kong Park, Hong Kong Heritage Museum in Sha Tin and the Visitor Centres of the Hong Kong Tourism Board in Tsim Sha Tsui and at the Peak, as well as the Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok.
For further details of Heritage Fiesta 2014 see the heritage conservation website;
Mr Paul Chan, Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Revitalisation of Historic Buildings, tours the photo exhibition in Pacific Place at the opening ceremony of Heritage Fiesta 2014
NATIONALS OF REPUBLIC OF YEMEN TO REQUIRE VISA FOR HONG KONG
With effect from 29th September 2014, nationals of the Republic of Yemen will require a visa to enter Hong Kong for whatever purpose, including those who remain airside in transit. Previously, nationals of the Republic of Yemen were allowed to visit Hong Kong visa-free for a stay of up to 30 days.
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passport holders currently do not require a visa to visit the Republic of Yemen. However, passport holders are advised to check with the Embassy of the Republic of Yemen in Beijing on the latest visa requirements before visiting the Republic of Yemen.
ICC LIGHT AND MUSIC SHOW LATEST PRESENTATION
Sun Hung Kei Properties (SHKP) ICC Light and Music Show, which premiered in April 2013, takes place on the facade of Hong Kong's tallest building, International Commerce Centre, above Kowloon Station and holds the Guinness World Record for the largest light and sound show on a single building.
The latest show "Starlight Wishes", which commenced on 1st September 2014, features an Autumn theme of the twelve zodiac constellations and a starry night. The show is expected to run for about three months.
The animation begins with a melodic piece as a princess dances in a music box followed by maple trees which soar off into the stars. Zodiac signs then enter with their classic silhouettes: Aquarius spills out as a well of wisdom; Pisces swims around in the night sky; Aries gallops under the moon; Taurus uses its paws to stir up stardust. The zodiac signs sprinkle all over the building facades with Cancer swinging its claws and Sagittarius drawing his bow, introducing their signature signs in distinctive ways. As silver threads stitch the twelve constellations into their astronomical shapes, viewers will be able to identify each of the signs one by one as they appear. The entire journey concludes with a romantic meteor shower as shimmering stars splinter across the sky, leaving sparkling traces of light that fuse with the cosmopolitan night view of Victoria Harbour.
The show takes place twice nightly at 7-45pm and 9pm. Recommended viewing places are the outdoor terraces of Podium Levels 3 and 4 of IFC Mall and anywhere along the waterfront promenades of Hong Kong Island, from Sheung Wan to Causeway Bay. The accompanying music is broadcast at Podium Levels 3 and 4 of IFC Mall and at ICC and tailor-made ICC Light and Music Show apps are available for iPhone and Android platforms enabling the public to listen to the synchronised music.
For further details see the ICC Light and Music Show website;
ICC Light and Music Show is presented nightly on the façade of International Commerce Centre, Hong Kong's tallest building
A common Hong Kong Wi-Fi brand, Wi-Fi.HK, was launched on 5th August 2014 which enables the public and visitors to easily identify free Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the territory.
Locals and visitors can connect to free Wi-Fi if they can access Wi-Fi hotspots under the brand Wi-Fi.HK with smartphones or mobile devices, or at places with the Wi-Fi.HK signage. The Wi-Fi service provided is either completely free or free for at least 30 minutes. No registration is required.
The Wi-Fi.HK website provides details of free public Wi-Fi hotspots under Wi-Fi.HK and an app for mobile devices is also available with search function to locate hotspots by nearest vicinity, district, venue, type or keyword;
To date, participating organisations of the Wi-Fi.HK brand include Hong Kong Telecommunications (HKT) Limited, Hong Kong Broadband Network Limited, Hutchison Global Communications Limited, Y5ZONE Limited, Airport Authority Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation and Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited.
More than 5,000 hotspots are now available under the Wi-Fi.HK brand, including Wi-Fi hotspots under the Government Wi-Fi Programme (GovWiFi). Wi-Fi.HK provides free Wi-Fi service across the city covering Hong Kong International Airport, tourist attractions, public telephone booths, shopping centres, cafés, restaurants, convenience stores, Cyberport, the Science Park and GovWiFi premises.
NEW VISA REQUIREMENTS FOR VISITORS FROM CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
Hong Kong Immigration Department has announced that, with effect from 21st July 2014, nationals of the Central African Republic will require a visa to visit Hong Kong for any purpose, including those who remain airside in transit. Central African Republic nationals were previously allowed visa-free entry for up to 14 days.
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passport holders currently do not require a visa to visit the Central African Republic. However, Hong Kong passport holders are advised to check with the Embassy of the Republic of Central Africa in Beijing on the latest visa requirement before visiting the country.
NEW MAPPING APP LAUNCHED
The Government Lands Department has launched a free mobile map application, "MyMapHK", in June to assist smartphone users searching for geographical locations or information about more than 120 public facilities. Through the three functional features of "MyMapHK", namely, "Map of Hong Kong", "Hiking" and "Old Hong Kong", users can browse maps and search for information about facilities including car parks, petrol stations, libraries, WiFi hotspots, sports venues and more, according to their needs.
The application, available in both Chinese and English versions, offers a speech-to-text search function. It operates on Android 4.0.3 and iOS 6.0 or higher operating systems. Users may search for "MyMapHK" in the iPhone App Store or Google Play Store for direct download.
NEW FRANCHISES EXPECTED FOR EXISTING BUS OPERATORS
The Hong Kong Government has confirmed its intention to engage existing operators Citybus Limited and New Lantao Bus Company Limited (NLB) in discussions, during the fourth quarter of 2014, with a view to granting new 10-year franchises to take effect immediately on expiry of the existing franchises.
Citybus (Franchise 1) mainly operates the Hong Kong Island and cross-harbour bus network, whilst NLB mainly serves Lantau Island and Shenzhen Bay Port. The current franchises expire on 1st June 2016 (Citybus Franchise 1) and 1st March 2017 (NLB). According to an independent survey commissioned by the Transport Department, about 88 per cent of respondents are satisfied with the overall service quality of the two existing franchise holders. Members of the Transport Advisory Commitee have provided comments on the requirements of the new franchises for the Government's consideration and members of the public are also able to express their opinions until mid-September 2014.
The current franchise for The Kowloon Motor Bus Company (1933) Ltd expires on 1st July 2017 and the government is expected to consider requirements for the new franchise in mid-2015.
Other bus franchises were renewed with existing operators in 2013. Citybus (Franchise 2) relates to airport and North Lantau services and runs until May 2023. Long Win Bus Company's franchise for airport, North Lantau and New Territories (except Tseung Kwan O) services also runs until May 2023. New World First Bus franchise, which is mainly for Hong Kong Island routes, runs until July 2023.
OCEAN PARK'S LATEST ATTRACTION
Ocean Park's latest attraction "Shark Mystique" opened on 26th June 2014. Located in the Marine World area of the park at The Summit, the attraction features over 100 sharks and rays in a walk-through aquarium spiralling down three levels enabling visitors to view the fish from a 360-degree perspective. The aquarium is five times the size of the previous shark aquarium.
KMB BUS FARE INCREASE APPROVED
A fare increase averaging 3.9%, to take effect from 6th July 2014, has been approved by the Transport Department in respect of bus services operated by Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB). The company carries about 2.6 million passengers daily and the increase was granted following two years of losses on 70% of KMB routes.
MTR FARES TO RISE FROM 29th JUNE 2014
MTR fares are to rise by an average of 3.6% from 29th June 2014. The rise has been calculated in accordance with the government's Fare Adjustment Mechanism which was revised in 2012 and is based on the average increase between the inflation rate and the wage increase in the transport sector. The fare increase will be the fifth consecutive year in which fares have risen.
MTR made a net profit of HK$13 billion for the year ended December 2013 and will allocate HK$152.5 million to restore the 10% same day second journey Octopus discount scheme from 29th June 2014 until 30th April 2015. The allocation includes payment of a HK$27.5 million fine for service disruptions in 2013 and HK$125 million which the company is required to share with passengers from HK$8.6 billion "underlying profits".
MTR is introducing a 30-day "City Saver" ticket from 1st June 2014 which will cost HK$400 and provide 40 trips throughout an urban network encompassing 54 stations on the Island Line, Tsuen Wan Line, Kwun Tong Line, Tseung Kwan O Line and Tung Chung Line between Hong Kong and Tsing Yi.
From 1st September 2014 until 31st May 2015 MTR will trial an "Early Bird Discount" scheme whereby passengers departing from 29 urban stations between 7-15am and 8-15am on weekdays, excluding public holidays, will receive a fare discount of 25%.
HONG KONG DISNEYLAND TO INTRODUCE NIGHT PARADE
Hong Kong Disneyland is to introduce a night parade "Disney Paint The Night" in October 2014. The spectacular parade, which takes place on Main Street USA, will feature "colour, energy and magic" and will introduce an interactive element allowing visitors to paint the night with favourite colours. Among the characters featured in the parade will be Mickey Mouse, Lightning McQueen, Sulley and Mike, Tinker Bell, Ariel, Belle, Buzz Lightyear and Woody.
HKTB CULTURAL KALEIDOSCOPE PROGRAMME DISCONTINUED
Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) has ended its "Hong Kong Cultural Kaleidoscope" programme with effect from 1st April 2014. The programme offered bona-fide visitors an opportunity to experience various local cultural activities including Duk Ling Junk Ride, Tai Chi Class, Feng Shui Class, Chinese Tea Appreciation Class, Cantonese Opera Appreciation Class Chinese Cake-making Class, Chinese Medicine Class and Architecture Walk.
HKTB is aiming to reorganise its resources to provide visitors a greater variety of opportunities to experience Hong Kong’s unique living culture and traditions in future.
ANNUAL VISITOR NUMBERS INCREASE TO 54 MILLION
Hong Kong Tourism Board has announced visitor numbers to Hong Kong grew by 11.7% to 54,298,804 during the year ended December 2013. Over 41 million visitors were from Mainland China, representing a year on year increase of 16.7%.
Overnight visitors amounted to 25,661,072, an increase of 8%, of which 17,089,509 were from Mainland China. Same-day visitors amounted to 28,637,762 of which 23,655,768 were from Mainland China.
Since the Individual Visit Scheme was introduced in 2003, and which now extends to 49 Mainland cities, the number of Mainland visitors has increased from 6.8 million at an annual average increase of over 23% to reach 41 million. Visitor numbers from most other destinations fell although visitor numbers from Russia, with which Hong Kong signed a reciprocal no-visa agreement in 2009, continued to rise, by 20% to almost 224,000, making Russia Hong Kong’s third biggest source of European visitors, behind the UK and France.
NGONG PING 360 CLOSURE DATES
Ngong Ping 360 has announced the cable car service between Tung Chung and Ngong Ping will be closed for scheduled maintenance work on the following dates in 2014;
17th, 18th, 19th & 20th March 2014
24th & 25th June 2014
15th, 16th, 17th, 18th & 19th September 2014
2nd & 3rd December 2014
During the closure period Ngong Ping Village, the "Big Buddha", Po Lin Monastery, Wisdom Path and other attractions at Ngong Ping remain open as usual.
Alternative transport between Tung Chung and Ngong Ping is New Lantao Bus Company service 23, which takes about 50 minutes;
or Lantau Island (blue) taxi, fare about HK$165 one-way, journey time about 30 minutes.
"HONG KONG ATTRACTIONS FUN DEALS" ENHANCED AND EXTENDED THROUGH 2014
Seven major Hong Kong attractions, Ocean Park Hong Kong, Ngong Ping 360, Hong Kong Wetland Park, The Peak Tram & Sky Terrace, Madame Tussauds Hong Kong, Noah’s Ark Hong Kong and sky100 Hong Kong Observation Deck are participating in the "Hong Kong Attractions Fun Deals" joint promotion, which runs from 1st January 2014 until 31st December 2014.
Visitors to any one of the seven attractions are entitled to a 10% admission discount by presenting the ticket stubs at any of the other four attractions. Redemption period for valid tickets from the seven attractions lasts until 31st January 2015.
Since 2011, when the promotion was launched with five participating attractions, over 16,000 visitors a year have taken advantage of the offer. For full details and terms and conditions see;
TAXI FARE INCREASE
Hong Kong taxi fares have increased with effect from 8th December 2013. The flagfall charge for the first 2km of any journey has risen by HK$2 to HK$22 red, (urban) taxi, HK$18.5 green, (New Territories) taxi and HK$17 blue, (Lantau) taxi. There is also a 10 cents increase in the first stage incremental charge for each 200-metres after the flagfall to HK$1.6 red taxi (journeys 2-9km), HK$1.4 green taxi (journeys 2-8km) and HK$1.4 blue taxi (journeys 2-20km). The surcharge for green taxis for each piece of baggage, animal or bird, and telephone booking, has been increased by HK$1 each HK$5, bringing it in line with red and blue taxis. Taxi fares were last increased in July 2011.
FOUR HISTORIC BUILDINGS TO BE REVITALISED
Proposals have been invited from non-profit making organisations for revitalise four historic buildings, under Batch IV of the Hong Kong government’s Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme.
The buildings are No. 12 School Street, the Old Dairy Farm Senior Staff Quarters on Pok Fu Lam Road, Lady Ho Tung Welfare Centre in Kwu Tung, Sheung Shui, and King Yin Lei on Stubbs Road.
No. 12 School Street, a Grade 3 historic building, was constructed in 1949 to replace an earlier pre-war building named Hung Shing Yi Hok (literally, Confucius free school for the poor), founded in the late Qing Dynasty.
The Old Dairy Farm Senior Staff Quarters was built in 1887 and is a Grade 1 historic building. It is one of the oldest remaining Dairy Farm buildings in Hong Kong and used to be the home of the farm manager.
Lady Ho Tung Welfare Centre is a Grade 2 historic building and was built by the Government in 1932-33 with donations from Sir Robert Ho Tung for use as a welfare centre for local residents. The centre was one of the first rural clinics established in the New Territories and served residents of the entire district.
King Yin Lei was the first privately owned historic building preserved through the provision of economic incentives. This declared monument was previously included under Batch III of the Revitalisation Scheme. The Advisory Committee on Revitalisation of Historic Buildings recommended that the project should be withdrawn from Batch III and relaunched in Batch IV so that a more suitable revitalisation proposal could be identified and the building could be put to better use.
The deadline for submission of applications is 15th April 2014 except for King Yin Lei where the deadline has been extended until May.
The 12 projects selected under the first three batches are at different stages of development. The six projects under Batch I, i.e. the Former North Kowloon Magistracy, the Old Tai O Police Station, Lui Seng Chun, Fong Yuen Study Hall, Mei Ho House and Phase One of the Former Lai Chi Kok Hospital, have come into operation. Two of the projects have received UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation. The Former North Kowloon Magistracy, which was revitalised as the Hong Kong Campus of the Savannah College of Art and Design, received an Honourable Mention in 2011 while the Old Tai O Police Station, which was revitalised as the Tai O Heritage Hotel, has received an Award of Merit.
IMMIGRATION DEPARTMENT MOBILE APP LAUNCHED
Hong Kong Immigration Mobile Application (ImmD Mobile App) has been launched on 5th December 2013 allowing Hong Kong residents and visitors to obtain information on estimated passenger waiting time at all land boundary control points and other ImmD information at any time.
Estimated passenger waiting time assessments are updated about every 15 minutes. The application aims to serve as a reference for Hong Kong residents and visitors so that they can choose a less congested land boundary control point or period of time to travel in order to shorten their waiting time. The ImmD Mobile App also provides information on the addresses and office hours of all ImmD offices and control points, the visa-free country list for HKSAR passport holders, visit visa or entry permit application requirements for visitors to the HKSAR, the Assistance to Hong Kong Residents 24-hour hotline, and Chinese embassy, consulate, mission and representative office lists.
ImmD Mobile App can be downloaded free of charge from the Apple App Store (supports iOS version 4.3 or above) or Google Play (supports Android version 2.2 or above).
TWO HISTORIC BUILDINGS DECLARED MONUMENTS
Two historical buildings on Hong Kong Island, the Cenotaph in Central and Béthanie at 139 Pok Fu Lam Road, have been declared as monuments under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance.
The Cenotaph was unveiled on May 25, 1923, by the then Governor, Sir Edward Stubbs. It is the earliest memorial formally constructed to commemorate the dead of the First World War in Hong Kong. Initially, the Cenotaph was simply inscribed with the words "The Glorious Dead" and the years of the First World War, i.e. "1914-1918". The years "1939-1945" were subsequently added to honour victims of the Second World War. In the 1980s, eight Chinese characters meaning "May their martyred souls be immortal, and their noble spirits endure" were carved on one side of the Cenotaph corresponding to the inscription "The Glorious Dead" to make it clear that the Cenotaph commemorates all who fell, especially those who fell in the defence of Hong Kong. Commemorative activities are still held by the Government and other relevant associations at the Cenotaph every year. The Cenotaph is built of dressed ashlar blocks, designed with a stepped plinth and the upper part diminishing by offsets to culminate at the top in a rectangular sarcophagus upon which rests a stone wreath. The architectural style of the Cenotaph is Classic Revival, based on formal symmetry and principles of pure Roman and Greek forms, founded on archaeological studies and scholarship. The apparent simplicity of the Cenotaph is based on exquisite refinement of classical principles.
Béthanie was completed in 1875 by the Society of Foreign Missions (Société des Missions Étrangéres) as their first sanatorium in East Asia for sick missionaries. The premises was closed in 1974 and was sold to Hongkong Land. The premises was subsequently taken over by the Government. It was then leased to the University of Hong Kong from 1978 to 1997. In 2002, the Government decided to restore and lease Béthanie together with the adjacent Old Dairy Farm Cowshed Building (a Grade 2 historic building) to the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA) for conversion into their second campus. The conversion was completed in 2006 and Béthanie has served as the School of Film and Television of the HKAPA since then. Béthanie consists of three parts: the chapel, the sanatorium and the service wing. Its architecture is of Neo-Gothic style and the plan is in symmetrical form with verandahs on all four sides. Rubble and ashlar plinth wall at the basement level, ornamental balustrades and arched colonnades at the verandahs form the elevations of the building. The most impressive part of the building is its beautiful chapel.
Information on the two monuments is available on the heritage conservation website of the Development Bureau ( www.heritage.gov.hk ).
MTR TO INTRODUCE SMART TICKETS
MTR has introduced “Smart” single-journey tickets from 20th October 2013, with Olympic Station being the first station to accept such tickets and eight more stations, Kam Sheung Road, Heng Fa Chuen, Tai Wo Hau, LOHAS Park, Ngau Tau Kok, Sunny Bay, Che Kung Temple and Fo Tan following during the same month. Magnetic-strip tickets are no longer be sold at these stations but at least one exit and entry gate at each station will accept magnetic stripe tickets to enable passengers to enter and exit all stations regardless of ticket type. Passengers with smart tickets should use the designated blue platform entry barriers and tap the ticket on the card reader (in the same manner as passengers using Octopus Card). At the exit barriers passengers should insert the ticket in the card slot where the card is retained and not returned to the passenger. The HK$200 million smart ticket programme is expected to be completed at all 82 stations by the end of June 2014. Only about 5% of journeys are made using single-journey tickets since most passengers use Octopus Card.
THIRD SHENZHEN AIRPORT CHECK-IN CENTRE OPENED IN HONG KONG
Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport has opened a third check-in centre for cross-border coach passengers in Hong Kong,located at Domain Mall in Yau Tong. Chinalink Bus Company will operate express coach services from the mall to the airport via Kwun Tong, Ngau Tau Kok, Wong Tai Sin and the Shenzhen Bay border check point with the journey taking about 80 minutes. Passengers will still need to carry their own luggage through the border checkpoint but on arrival at the airport will be able to hand over luggage to airline staff for loading onto flights.
Other check-in centres in Hong Kong for cross-border coach passengers to Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport are located at Chinalink coach stations at Elements Mall above Kowloon Station and Pak Hoi Street, Jordan.
HONG KONG DISNEYLAND TO OPEN IRON MAN ZONE
Hong Kong Disneyland has announced plans to open a new themed zone based on the Marvel Comics Iron Man character “which will take guests on an epic adventure of a lifetime as they join Tony Stark in a battle against alien invaders across the city of Hong Kong”. Planned to open in late 2016, Iron man Experience will also include an area where guests can meet and take photos with Iron Man, as well as a Marvel merchandise location.
Disneyland recently completed a 2-year expansion which has seen the introduction of three new themed areas, Toy Story Land, Grizzly Gulch and Mystic Point and the size of the park grow by about 25%.
NEW VICTORIA PARK SWIMMING POOL OPENED
Victoria Park’s new HK$800 million state-of-the-art swimming pool complex opened to the public on 16th September 2013. The complex, which has been built on a site next to the old pool, took four years to construct and is equipped with an Olympic standard pool, multi-purpose pool and 2,500-seat specatator stand. The old complex, which opened in 1957, will be demolished and a roller skating rink, handball court and landscaped areas are planned to be constructed on the site
BRUCE LEE EXHIBITION TO OPEN AT HONG KONG HERITAGE MUSEUM
Presented by the Hong Kong Government’s Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD), and jointly organised by the Bruce Lee Foundation and the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, the long-awaited exhibition "Bruce Lee: Kung Fu •Art •Life" exhibition will open on 20th July 2013, the 40th anniversary of his death, and will run for five years.
Bruce Lee, who grew up in Hong Kong was internationally renowned as the martial arts movie star who raised interest in Chinese kung fu around the world through his movies, making a profound impact on different aspects of popular culture such as movies, TV shows and comics. Having received tremendous support from local and overseas collectors and various institutions, the exhibition has gathered more than 600 precious relics and memorabilia items related to Bruce Lee on loan for display. They include more than 400 relics from the Bruce Lee Foundation, the largest number of artefacts that the Foundation has ever lent out. In addition, the Hong Kong Film Archive under the LCSD has provided more than 100 items selected from its collection for display in the exhibition. Through these collections, the exhibition will be able to review the life story of the legendary Bruce Lee, from the perspectives of his profile, his movies, his martial arts and his development as a cultural phenomenon.
The exhibition gallery will house several sets of reconstructions, which have been created with ideas inspired by prominent scenes in Lee's five classic kung fu movies as well as his gym and his study. The exhibits, placed suitably in the reconstructed scenes, will enhance visitors' experiences in viewing the exhibition. The exhibition will also include a collector series in which the theme will be changed regularly to show the precious collections of different collectors with an aim of introducing the cultural significance and the influence of Bruce Lee through the collectors' eyes. The first exhibition in the collector series will feature more than 100 products related to the TV series "The Green Hornet", provided by internationally acclaimed US collector Perry Lee. Through this collection, visitors will be able to learn more about the first image of Bruce Lee branded by a US enterprise.
Exhibition Gallery of the Bruce Lee: Kung Fu •Art •Life exhibition at Hong Kong Heritage Museum
Organisations which are supporting the exhibition include Fortune Star Media Limited, which has sponsored the licensed rights of eight movies starring Bruce Lee and related materials for use in the exhibition as well as in the education and promotional activities. The Federation of Hong Kong Filmmakers has produced a 75-minute documentary entitled "The Brilliant Life of Bruce Lee", which will be shown during the exhibition period. Famous sculptor Chu Tat-shing has created a brand-new statue of Bruce Lee. The statue, 3.5 metres high, will show the strong side-kicking image of Lee. The animation artist Shannon Ma is creating a 3D hologram animation that will vividly show Lee's nunchakus as well as his quick and forceful kicks.
To tie in with the five-year exhibition, Hong Kong Heritage Museum is organising a series of education and extension programmes with different themes to be carried out in phases. The first phase of activities, under the theme "The Bruce Lee that Hong Kong Knew", will include lectures, sharing sessions and interactive demonstrations to explore the life, career and achievements of Bruce Lee from different perspectives. The first programme, to be introduced in July, is a gallery talk by Lee's daughter Shannon Lee, who will share the story of the exhibits with participants. The collector Perry Lee will also give a talk to share his experience of collecting Bruce Lee memorabilia.
Visitors will only need to pay the museum's standard admission fees for visiting the exhibition without additional charges. To ensure effective crowd control, visitors will be required to present a special admission slip for admission to the exhibition. Standard admission to the Hong Kong Heritage Museum is HK$10 with a half-price concession available for full-time students, people with disabilities and senior citizens aged 60 or above. Admission is free on Wednesdays. The exhibition will be closed on Tuesdays.
The exhibition will have special viewing sessions to avoid overcrowding during the early stage of its opening. There will be five viewing sessions on weekdays and six per day on weekends and public holidays, with each session lasting about one hour and 30 minutes. Each session will accommodate about 400 visitors.
To assist the public in visiting the exhibition during the summer holidays, the museum will introduce online reservation of tickets for the first two months (from mid-July to mid-September) after the exhibition opens. Visitors can, via email, reserve tickets for a time slot that fits their schedule and go to the museum before the commencement of the time slot booked to purchase their reserved tickets and collect the special exhibition admission slip. Visitors will also be able to reserve or purchase tickets at the museum. The first of the two phases of online reservation will start at 10am on 4th July. Visitors will be able to reserve tickets covering the period from 20th July to 19th August 2013 through Hong Kong Heritage Museum's website at hk.heritage.museum. The second phase of ticket reservation, covering the exhibition period from 20th August to 20th September 2013, will start at 10am on 1st August. Interested parties will only be allowed to make reservations for a maximum of three viewing sessions and four tickets for each session during each phase of online reservation while the quota is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
For more information, also see CURRENT EXHIBITIONS
FREE WI-FI TO BE EXTENDED TO ALL MTR STATIONS
MTR Corporation has announced that, as from 8th July 2013, free Wi-Fi hotspots will be available at all MTR stations. Free Wi-Fi is currently available at iCentres at 14 stations. The free Wi-Fi service will be available in the paid area of stations but not on platforms or trains. Each connection session will be limited to 15 minutes with a maximum of 5 sessions per day.
MAINLAND BORDER CLOSED AREA TO BE FURTHER REDUCED FROM 10th JUNE 2013
The second stage of the reduction of the Frontier Closed Area (FCA) between Hong Kong and Shenzhen is to be implemented on 10th June 2013, opening up to the public an area of 710 hectares of land including six villages between the Lok Ma Chau border crossing and Ng Tung River. The villages, which could previously only be entered with a permit are Liu Pok, Lutheran New Village, Lok Ma Chau, Tak Yuet Lau, Ha Wan and Ma Tso Lung. The closed road restriction within the excised area will be lifted. Vehicles will be free to use the roads in the excised area, but they will have to follow other traffic instructions and restrictions. Police will monitor the traffic situation closely, increase patrols along the main roads in the area, and implement traffic contingency measures if necessary. It should be noted the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Control Point, the Lok Ma Chau Boundary Control Point and MTR Lo Wu Station will remain in the FCA after the second-stage FCA reduction and only boundary-crossing passengers using specified modes of transport and holders of the relevant Closed Area Permits are permitted to enter these areas.
Two sections of the closed border frontier area covering over 740 hectares, including the Mai Po wetlands and six villages around Shau Tau Kok have already been opened up to the public since February 2012. When the second stage of the reduction is implemented on 10th June, the FCA will have reduced from 2,800 hectares to about 1350 hectares. It will be further reduced to 400 hectares on completion of the final stage in 2015 when the “Ng Tung River to Lin Ma Hang Section” is returned to public access. However, the famous Chung Ying Street in Shau Tau Kok town, which has one side in Hong Kong and the other in Shenzhen, will remain closed for security reasons. The reduced FCA will mainly comprise Sha Tau Kok Town, Boundary Control Points and the re-aligned boundary patrol road.
The restricted zone was established by the British colonial government in 1951 as a barrier to people fleeing mainland China following the Communist Party gaining power, and entry to the closed zone has been restricted to permit holders. The government green plan for the area, announced in May 2008, envisages cycling routes between Lok Ma Chau and Lo Wu to enable people to enjoy the natural and rural landscape, fishponds and wetlands. A country park is to be built in Robin's Nest between Pat Sin Leng Country Park in Hong Kong and Wutongshan National Forest Park in Shenzhen. Hiking trails have also been proposed between Cheung Shan Monastery and Lin Ma Hang and between Lok Ma Chau to Hoo Hok Wai. There are some 300 heritage sites in the area and the government is proposing to create trails to link some of these sites. Only one small plot of land at Kong Nga Po near Man Kam To is being reserved for for residential development and this and this will be a small community with green architecture built with energy saving materials.
Divisional Commander (Sha Tau Kok) of the Police, Mr Ip Ka-ho and customs officials unveil the opening of the first stage of the reduced Frontier Closed Area.
MTR EAST RAIL LINE LUGGAGE WEIGHT LIMIT RESTRICTION TIGHTENED
With effect from 4th February 2013, the weight limit for passenger luggage on MTR East Rail Line is to be lowered from 32kg to 23kg for a trial period of three months. Mandatory weighing of large luggage will be extended to Tai Po Market and Fo Tan stations, in addition to Sheung Shui, Lok Ma Chau and Lo Wu Stations where mandatory weighing of luggage is already in force with scales being set up at designated entrances to these stations. Luggage must also comply with existing size limits which stipulate that passengers may carry one piece of total dimension (length, width, height) of 170cm and the length of any one side not exceeding 130cm.
The 32kg weight limit trial was implemented on 9th October 2012, initially for a period of three months, but was extended in January. The weight restrictions, which apply only to East Rail Line, have been imposed as a specific response to complaints and demonstrations from the general public in relation to the activities of cross-border parallel traders who regularly use the MTR to transport large quantities of boxes of goods weighing up to 80kg on trolleys, causing congestion within trains and outside stations and on station platforms at stations near the border. The restrictions have been tightened at the request of the government. MTR has a dedicated By-laws Inspection Unit (BIU) of 39 members to enforce MTR By-laws at East Rail Line stations. They are supported by a team of more than 90 private security personnel and the BIU is being strengthened by another 20 members, bringing the total number of inspectors to 59.
DISNEYLAND BUS ROUTES R11 & R22 DISCONTINUED
Citybus bus services R11 and R22, which operate direct routes from Hong Kong Disneyland to urban areas daily, following conclusion of the Disney fireworks display, will cease to operate after 13th January 2013. As an alternative, passengers wishing to travel to urban areas by bus from Hong Kong Disneyland can take bus R8 from Hong Kong Disneyland Public Transport Interchange to the Lantau Link Toll Plaza and connect with Cityflyer services A11, A21, A22 or A29. A bus-bus interchange discount is available for passengers using Octopus Card and using service R8 to interchange at the Lantau Link Toll Plaza. More information about public transport to/from Hong Kong Disneyland is available HERE
PARK ISLAND - TSEUN WAN FERRY SERVICE REDUCTION / TAXI RESTRICTIONS LIFTED
The Park Island Transport Company ferry service operating between the Park Island complex at Ma Wan and Tsuen Wan ceased operating from 14th December 2012. However, a limited ferry service between Park Island Pier and Tsuen Wan Pier resumed on 8th June 2013 with three daily sailings each way at 11-15, 13-15 and 15-15 from Park Island and 11-45, 13-45 and 15-45 from Tsuen Wan. The service has been in operation since 2002 but has been making heavy losses. Park Island bus service NR331, offers alternative transport between Park Island and Tsuen Wan Railway Station at 20/30 minute frequency between 6am and midnight.
The Park Island ferry service operating between Park Island and Central Pier 2 continues to operate normal service.
Restrictions on taxi access to Ma Wan have been lifted with effect from 14th December 2012 and urban taxis can now serve Ma Wan 24 hours a day.
HONG KONG AVENUE OF COMIC STARS OPENED
Hong Kong Comic Avenue of Stars, a 100-metre path lined with statues of local comic characters in Kowloon Park was officially opened on 28th September 2012 and is expected to become a popular new tourist attraction. The avenue also features a Gallery of Comic History and Development and a Gallery of Comic Education to introduce visitors to Hong Kong comics history, the production process, tools, workshops and manuscripts.
The avenue is a three-year project sponsored by the government-funded Create Hong Kong and co-organised by Hong Kong Comics and Animation Federation, Hong Kong Productivity Council, Hong Kong Digital Entertainment Industry Support Centre, Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Arts and Culture Co-ordinating Committee of the Yau Tsim Mong District Council.
For further details see WHAT'S NEW
Hong Kong Comic Avenue of Stars in Kowloon Park, seen on opening day 28th September 2012
JOINT HONG KONG & SHENZHEN TRAVEL PASS TO BE LAUNCHED
Octopus Cards Limited and Shenzhentong Limited are launching a joint Hong Kong and Shenzhen cross-border card with effect from 11th September 2012. The card facilitates travel on public transport and small value purchases at many retail outlets in both cities. The Hong Kong version "Hu Tong Xing" will be available in Sold Adult version for HK$98 in Hong Kong and RMB80 in Shenzhen.
The purchase price of the card includes no useable value and is non-refundable. In Hong Kong the Hong Kong version of the card can be purchased at all MTR and Light Rail Customer Service Centres (excluding Airport Express, Racecourse and Disneyland stations) and MTR Travel (excluding Admiralty Station). In Shenzhen the Hong Kong version of the card can be purchased at Shenzhentong Customer Service Centres and sales outlets. The card combines two electronic purses in HKD and RMB in one chip and must be loaded separately in each currency for use in each city. Adding value to the pass, which is aimed at frequent travellers between the cities, will only be possible in HKD in Hong Kong and in RMB in Shenzhen.
VISA EXEMPTION FOR KAZAKHSTAN NATIONALS
With effect from 26th July 2012, Republic of Kazakhstan passport holders are able to visit Hong Kong visa-free for stays of up to 14 days. The reciprocal agreement between the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government and the Republic of Kazakhstan also allows HKSAR passport holders visa-free access to the Republic of Kazakhstan for stays of up to 14 days.
HONG KONG TOURISM BOARD NEW LOOK KOWLOON VISITOR CENTRE OPENS
Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) Kowloon Visitor Centre, located at Star Ferry Pier Concourse, Tsim Sha Tsui, which was closed for renovation in April, reopened on Friday 18th May 2012 with a bright new look. During the closure period HKTB operated a limited service from a temporary counter inside the Star Ferry Pier Main Entrance. The new-look visitor centre offers a full range of services including providing comprehensive information on tourist attractions and events, tour bookings and provision of maps and leaflets, and other tourist publications. The visitor centre is open from 8am to 8pm daily.
Hong Kong Tourism Board's new look visitor centre at Tsim Sha Tsui
SUNBEAM THEATRE REPRIEVED
Hong Kong's main venue and "home" of Cantonese Opera performances for the last 40 years since its founding in 1972, the 1033-seat Sunbeam Theatre on King's Road at North Point, which was due to stage its final performance on 19th February 2012, has been saved from closure. The theatre, which has been privately run by Hong Kong Arts Entertainment Company Limited had been due to close to make way for a new shopping mall, having already been reprieved for three years after having been threatened with closure when the previous lease expired in February 2009. The current owner, a property developer, purchased the property for HK$162 million in 2003 with the intention of demolishing the theatre and building on the site but a three-year extension to the lease was agreed with the Hong Kong Government on the understanding that the owner would be allowed to redevelop the site when the extension to the lease expires. The monthly rental tripled to HK$698,000 and funding for the lease extension has amounted to around HK$6.6 million with HK$3 million being provided by private donations and the government funding the balance. In a last minute deal the owner has agreed a further four year lease with Cantonese opera playwright Li Kui-ming for a sum of HK$1 million a month but no further government funding will be provided. The theatre will be managed by Li's Prime Splendor Theatrical Troupe and staff who previously ran the theatre are being re-hired.
There have been about 150 shows annually at the theatre performed by professional troupes, with each show being supported by a HK$15,000 government subsidy through the Arts Development Council. The theatre, on the ground level of Kiu Fai Mansion, was originally built as a 1600-seat theatre in 1972 but was divided in the early 1980's with the main theatre, the Grand Theatre on the ground floor, used mostly for operatic performances containing 1033 seats and a small theatre upstairs containing 340 seats.
The theatre has been closed since February and is undergoing a HK$10 million renovation which includes fitting of new carpets and seats, and will reopen on 21st May. The small theatre will become a centre for performing-arts education.
Hong Kong's repreived "Home of Cantonese Opera", the Sunbeam Theatre, on King's Road at North Point, reopens on 21st May 2012 after renovation
Since taking over the lease, Li has expressed his intention to turn the theatre into a cultural centre promoting the art of Cantonese Opera and a much wider range of performing arts such as other forms of Chinese opera, drama, magic and acrobatic shows. There are also plans for the Sunbeam to become the largest cinema in Hong Kong by installing a digital film projector capable of being upgraded to show 3-D movies.
A large 1100-seat theatre is being built as a permanent venue for Cantonese Opera in the Xiqu Centre the West Kowloon Cultural District which is scheduled for completion in 2015/16. In the meantime an 600-seat annexe to the 1031-seat Ko Shan Theatre in Hung Hom is due to be completed in 2013 to enable more Cantonese Opera rehearsals and performances at that venue which currently has about 140 Cantonese Opera performances annually and Yau Ma Tei Theatre has been redeveloped to provide a venue for small-scale performances and operatic singing activities. Chan Shun Kui Community Hall in North Point has also been considered as a future venue in order that a Cantonese Opera Theatre venue can be maintained on Hong Kong Island.
Foyer of the Sunbeam Theatre seen shortly before its reopening on 21st May 2012
BABY ORANGUTAN TWINS ON PUBLIC DISPLAY
A pair of Bornean orangutan twins, born at Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens (HKZBG) in July 2011, have been put on public display from 10th February 2012 in two daily one-hour viewing sessions.
The male baby, Wan Wan, weighed about two kilogrammes at birth while the female, Wah Wah, was about 1.4 kilogrammes. They are now five kilogrammes and four kilogrammes respectively. The twins' father, Vandu, was born in Belgium while their mother, Raba, is an "aborigine" of the HKZBG and was born in the gardens. Though coming from different origins, they successfully mated and gave birth to newborns in the environment of the gardens.
In view of the twins' young age and with regard to their living pattern and growth needs, HKZBG has arranged the two one-hour visit sessions per day for the public to meet the twins through a viewing window of the activity room at the HKZBG Education and Exhibition Centre, Albany Road, Central. The visit sessions run from 10am to 11am and 2pm to 3pm. Visitors should remain silent during the tour and refrain from tapping on the window of the activity room or using flashlights and follow the instructions of staff at the scene.
Female baby orangutan Wah Wah
FOUR HONG KONG FESTIVALS INCLUDED IN CHINA'S NATIONAL HERITAGE LIST
Four traditional Hong Kong Festivals have been included in China's national list of intangible cultural heritage from June 2011;
TAI HANG FIRE DRAGON DANCE
The event has been held for more than 100 years. Tai Hang was originally a Hakka village. Legend has it that a plague broke out there in 1880, and to ward off the disease the villagers planted joss sticks in a dragon-shaped form. On the evening of the 14th, 15th and 16th of the eighth lunar month, the villagers paraded the fire dragon through the village and let off firecrackers. The plague ended after the event. From then on, the villagers have performed a three-day fire dragon dance every year to bless themselves.
CHEUNG CHAU JIAO FESTIVAL (BUN FESTIVAL)
The activity has been practised for more than 100 years. Cheung Chau was devastated by a plague in the late Qing dynasty. Local residents set up a sacrificial altar in front of Pak Tai Temple to pray to the god Pak Tai to drive off evil spirits. The residents even paraded deity statues through the village lanes. The plague ceased after performance of the ritual. Since then, residents on Cheung Chau have organised a Jiao Festival every year to express thanks to the god for blessing and protecting them. With residents' participation every year, the ritual has been passed down through the generations.
YU LAN GHOST FESTIVAL OF THE HONG KONG CHIU CHOW COMMUNITY
There are about 1.2 million people originating from Chiu Chow in Hong Kong who actively carry on their traditions. During the ghost festival, which lasts for a month every year, the Chiu Chow people in Hong Kong organise the Yu Lan Festival that starts from the first day of the seventh lunar month and continues until the end of that month. Having been held for more than 100 years, the festival is to offer sacrifices to ancestors and the wandering ghosts in the netherworld. The main activities include burning incense and joss papers, performing live Chinese operas and dramas for ghosts, distributing auspicious rice and auctioning auspicious objects.
TAI O DRAGON BOAT WATER PARADE
During the annual Dragon Boat Festival, three fishermen's associations, Pa Teng, Sin Yu Heung and Hap Sim Tong, organise a religious activity known as the dragon boat water parade. On the morning before the festival, members of the associations row their dragon boats to visit four temples in Tai O, where they receive statues of Yeung Hou, Tin Hau, Kwan Tei and Hung Shing. They carry the deity statues back to their associations' hall for worship. On the day of the festival, the deity statues are put on sacred sampans towed by the associations' dragon boats to parade through Tai O's waters. The deity statues are returned to the respective temples after the ritual. This unique religious activity has been preserved for more than a century.
The HKSAR Government submitted an application for these four items to be inscribed onto the third national list of intangible cultural heritage in September 2009, having been selected from a shortlist of 349 cultural items. The four items fall within the category of "social practices, rituals and festive events" set out in the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
SMARTPHONE BOARDING PASSES INTRODUCED AT HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Since February 2012, smartphone boarding passes have become available to about half of all passengers departing from Hong Kong International Airport. The system, which has already been widely introduced at US airports, allows passengers to receive a form of barcode known as a QR code on their smartphone screens, which can be held against a scanner and eliminates the need for a paper boarding pass. Participating airlines are Cathay Pacific, Dragonair, British Airways, KLM, Lufthansa, United Airlines, Air France, Delta and Emirates. For more information see;