Hong Kong representatives to CPPCC seek higher duty-free shopping limit for mainland Chinese visitors

Henry Tang

1st March 2024 – (Hong Kong) Hong Kong representatives to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) are proposing an increase in the duty-free shopping limit for mainland Chinese visitors from the current 5,000 yuan to 30,000 yuan. The current limit, unchanged for nearly three decades, no longer aligns with the spending power of mainland tourists. Henry Tang, a Standing Committee member of the CPPCC, stated that this proposed change would be a key element of a joint proposal initiated by him and supported by the majority of Hong Kong’s representatives in Beijing.

The aim of the higher tax incentive is to attract mainland Chinese shoppers who have been flocking to Hainan, an island province known for its duty-free shopping. Tang believes that a more generous tax-free shopping limit would boost tourism and enhance Hong Kong’s appeal to mainland spenders. Additionally, it would complement other proposals, such as reinstating the multiple-visa scheme for Shenzhen residents and expanding the number of mainland cities whose residents can visit Hong Kong individually.

Tang emphasised the need for greater integration between Hong Kong and the Mainland, pointing out that mainlanders can stay in Singapore for 30 days without a visa. The proposal has garnered support from about two-thirds of the approximately 200 Hong Kong representatives to the CPPCC, and it will be formally submitted next week during the CPPCC meeting.

Hong Kong’s tourism sector has struggled to recover from the impact of Covid-19 travel restrictions. Despite the lifting of pandemic measures a year ago, the number of visitors in 2023 was only half of the record 65 million in 2018. The city’s representatives argue that the current tax-free shopping limit of 5,000 yuan, set in 1996, is no longer sufficient, especially considering the significant increase in mainlanders’ disposable income.