It has been reported that according to the findings of a recent survey, nearly 90 per cent of the practitioners in the tourism industry were “worried” or “very worried” about the prospect of the tourism industry in Hong Kong. There are views that in addition to increasing the percentage of overnight visitors in the total number of tourists, the development of tourist night markets may also help to promote local gourmet culture, thereby creating low-skilled employment opportunities and boosting the economic development. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) given that the Secretary for Food and Health said in March last year that he was studying with the 18 district councils (DCs) the setting up of night markets, of the latest details of the discussions (including the views put forward by various DCs), the progress of the study and the completion date; of the time required for conducting the relevant consultation exercise and the implementation timetable of the entire programme, as estimated by the authorities; whether the authorities have conducted surveys to find out the potential demand of members of the public in Hong Kong and overseas tourists for tourist night markets and their views in this respect;
(2) of a breakdown by DC district of the number of prosecutions instituted by the authorities last year against unlicensed hawkers selling cooked food; whether it has studied the impact caused by unlicensed hawkers selling cooked food on the environmental hygiene of the areas and streets with a higher concentration of such unlicensed hawkers; of the hygienic requirements the authorities have planned to impose on night markets, and whether they will formulate the hygienic criteria specifically for the food sold at night markets; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(3) given that during the celebrations of the birthdays of Zhen Jun and Tin Hau in recent years, Tsing Yi Bamboo Theatre would be set up in Tsing Yi, and that it is learnt that the night market inside the Theatre consisting of a few dozen traditional food stalls was very popular among members of the public and tourists alike, whether the authorities will make reference to the successful example of Tsing Yi Bamboo Theatre and study the economic boosters and growth that tourist night markets may bring to the local catering industry, tourism industry or hotel industry, etc.; whether the authorities will apply the experience of Tsing Yi Bamboo Theatre to the development of Lunar New Year night markets or other tourist night markets in various districts; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
The Government keeps an open mind towards proposals for the establishment of open-air bazaars (including night markets), and considers the district-led approach desirable. The Government will render assistance to development proposals as long as they will not jeopardise food safety and environmental hygiene or obstruct public access, and provided that suitable sites can be located by the organisations concerned and that support from local communities and respective district councils (DCs) is obtained.
(1) In March 2015, the Food and Health Bureau (FHB) presented proposals to the Subcommittee on Hawker Policy of the Legislative Council. One of them covered the setting up of district-led bazaars. In the same month, FHB briefed the Chairmen of the 18 DCs. On that as well as various subsequent occasions, we articulated the Government’s stance and the positioning of our hawker policy, as well as invited interested parties to identify suitable sites in districts to set up bazaars.
An individual organisation organised a bazaar on a trial basis in Kiu Kiang Street in Sham Shui Po on Sundays of August 2015. Besides, a kaifong organisation organised a bazaar with stalls selling cooked food at Maple Street Playground in Sham Shui Po during the Lunar New Year period of 2016.
In November 2015, the Government received proposals related to bazaars from a number of organisations. FHB wrote to the DC Chairmen concerned, seeking their assistance in putting the proposals before the DCs for discussion and follow-up. With the support of Sham Shui Po DC, an organisation submitted an application for the requisite Temporary Places of Public Entertainment Licence (TPPE) for organising a bazaar in Kiu Kiang Street in Sham Shui Po from June to October 2016. The concerned government departments did not raise any objection to the application. The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) issued the Letter of Requirements to the applicant on June 7. As and when compliance with all licensing requirements is confirmed, FEHD will issue the requisite licence. Separately, the Island DC has formed a Working Group on promotion of bazaar development (WG). The WG held its first meeting in April 2016 to follow up the bazaar proposals. FHB will keep in touch with the DCs concerned to take forward the proposals.
The Government has been showcasing local culture and delicacies to tourists through the Hong Kong Tourism Board’s (HKTB) website, mobile applications, visitors’ guidebooks, visitor information centres and hotline. Open-air markets form one of the main themes of HKTB’s promotion efforts, such as the Ladies Market in Mong Kok and the Temple Street Night Market in Yau Ma Tei.
If and when any night market has seen its way to development into a tourist hotspot, HKTB stands ready to consider including it as one of those highlighted attractions for promotion to tourists. Currently, HKTB has not commissioned any survey to examine the potential demand for and tourists’ feedback on night markets.
(2) Unlicensed cooked food hawkers usually gather and operate at prime locations to conduct their hawking activities, thus causing environmental hygiene, noise nuisance, food safety problems and obstruction to public passageways. To achieve deterrent effect, FEHD carries out stringent enforcement action against such unlicensed cooked food hawkers causing risks to public health by arresting them and seizing their hawking equipment. The Annex gives the number of prosecutions instigated against unlicensed cooked food hawkers (broken down by DC boundaries) in 2015. FEHD has not conducted case studies on the environmental hygiene impact caused by unlicensed cooked food hawkers at specific areas.
Under the Food Business Regulation (Cap.132X), the operation of a food business requires the relevant food licence from FEHD. For food business which involves the operation of a stall / kiosk of temporary nature for heating up and sale of pre-cooked food for human consumption in conjunction with a public function of short duration, a temporary food factory licence (TFFL) should be obtained from FEHD. Under a TFFL licence, the pre-cooked food sold must be obtained from lawful sources. Only warming of food by electricity is allowed. FEHD’s current regulatory regime over the sale of food by licensed food premises is premised on the principle that no food safety and environmental hygiene would be compromised. FEHD would consider each application for food business licence on its own merit.
(3) To celebrate the Tsing Yi Chun Kwan Festival and Tsing Yi Tin Hau Festival, organisations concerned have been organising functions at the Tsing Yi Athletic Association Sportsground for several days in April and May respectively in recent years. Apart from Chinese opera performance, there are cooked food stalls selling various kinds of pre-cooked food obtained from lawful sources. The organisers would obtain the requisite TPPE and TFFL from FEHD.
As abovementioned, the Government keeps an open mind towards proposals for the establishment of open-air bazaars, and considers the district-led approach desirable and should stand a higher chance of successful operation. The Government will render assistance to development proposals as long as they will not jeopardise food safety and environmental hygiene or obstruct public access, and provided that suitable sites can be located by the organisations concerned and that support from local communities and respective DCs is obtained.