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Guangdong Opens up Travel Sector
Guangdong will invite Hong Kong travel agencies to set up shop in the province to compete with State-run tourist agencies, Guangdong party chief Li Changchun has revealed.

Li said the operations could be joint ventures or even solely owned. The move would allow Guangdong to take the lead in the mainland's tourism industry reform, Li said during a panel discussion with Hong Kong and Macao members at the ongoing annual session of the Guangdong Provincial People's Political Consultative Conference (PPPCC).

Under the Central Government's current policy, overseas investors are allowed to set up joint ventures with mainland partners in tourism, but the mainland partners must be the controlling share holders with at least 51 percent of capital.

These Hong Kong-Mainland travel agents in the mainland are not allowed to operate tours to the SAR or anywhere outside the mainland.

After making the comments, Li ordered government officials in charge of tourism, who were at the discussion panel, to begin working on implementing his proposal. Li pledged that he and Governor Lu Ruihua would fully support the plan to ensure its success.

In his government report delivered to the provincial parliament, Lu said Guangdong would strive for the development of the greater Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao tourist region.

Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong executive director Joseph Tung said he had not received official news relating to Li's proposal.

"I have not been told by anyone about any changes in the regulations. But the Central Government and the SAR Government have been working on the issue to make sure such a move could be achieved by 2005, as originally planned."

(China Daily February 20, 2002)