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Immigration workload on rise
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Immigration officials at a major checkpoint bordering Hong Kong will be working longer hours to cope with the growing number of travelers between Shenzhen and Hong Kong, authorities said yesterday.

The checkpoint, which oversees the entry and exit of travelers at the Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport and a nearby wharf providing ferry services to Hong Kong, witnessed more than 2 million travelers last year, an increase of almost 12 percent year-on-year.

"Despite the increasing flow of people, we won't have excessive immigration officials," Zhang Yang, a press official at the Shenzhen airport checkpoint station, said.

"All the 110 immigration officials at the airport and wharf have been urged to improve efficiency and will work longer hours," Zhang said.

The officials will work three to four hours longer, Zhang said.

Currently, it takes no longer than 15 seconds to handle all the immigration procedures of a Hong Kong or Macao visitor, checkpoint officials said.

The growing number of travelers is mainly due to new international flight routes plying the two areas, Zhang said.

The checkpoint saw airline passengers traveling between Shenzhen and Hong Kong surge to about 786,000 last year, a 47-percent increase from the previous year, Zhang said.

Shenzhen airport, the mainland's fourth largest, operated at least 20 international passenger and cargo routes and served about 13,400 international flights last year, compared with the 200 flights it started with in 1993, Zhang said.

"With the operation of new international routes this year, we expect the inbound and outbound flow of people at the airport to surpass 1 million this year," he said.

Visitors from South Korea accounted for nearly 11 percent of all visitors, followed by those from Malaysia, Japan and Singapore.

(China Daily January 3, 2008)

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