Walk carefully along the Lantau eco-corridor plan

It is an attractive proposal to create an eco-recreational corridor in the south of Lantau. If successful, it should be able to attract more visitors than the 6,000 visitors per day expected by government planners.

According to the proposal, the corridor covering Cheung Sha, Shui Hau, Shek Pik and Pui O is to be expanded with food and beverage, sports and adventure facilities.

New walking paths and sidewalks are also being constructed.

This time, the government is willing to give the public more time to comment instead of just one month.

It makes more sense to give society a longer period to express its views on policy proposals that could have a lasting impact on the city.

The suggestion to enrich Lantau South with eco-recreational facilities could generate impact, depending on planning and management.

Visitor centers, shopping and dining options, water sports areas, chair lifts for hikers, zip lines among the trees, resort accommodations and recreational piers are things that can easily be found in other attractions around the world.

The corridor envisioned through Hong Kong is probably one of the few destinations anywhere that is equipped with all such facilities.

If implemented as planned, people looking for travel experiences beyond city activities would flock here.

That said, planners must prepare for the next “lucky challenge”: once the tourists come, there will eventually be too many.

And too many tourists can be dangerous to the eco-sensitive places the corridor depends on.

If these eco-sensitive sites are destroyed by too many people stepping on them, the entire project would lose its soul and appeal.

Investments in the hardware would also be wasted.

The consultation document is packed with great ideas, although many of them have been selectively taken from other destinations.

Nevertheless, the document does not say much about how the corridor would be carefully managed to preserve its diverse ecological values ​​while encouraging more people to spend their holidays there.

Shui Hau, for example, is known for its vast sandbanks that become mirror-like at low tide. It is also an important breeding ground for the endangered horseshoe crab and an essential stopover for migratory birds.

Having too many tourists can be a major concern for environmentally or heritage sensitive places and many destinations with high heritage value have taken special measures to control the number of visitors.

The canal city of Venice – probably the most reported case – welcomes 30 million visitors every year. To protect the city from overtourism, the city charges day trippers an entrance fee during the peak spring and summer seasons.

Cruise ships are also excluded from the center.

Athens has also taken special measures to protect its famous Greek Acropolis by limiting the number of visitors, who are required to book a time slot in advance, with quotas changing from hour to hour.

As officials in Hong Kong draw up a plan to fill the corridor with the hardware, planning the management software in advance is essential to make the project truly sustainable.

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