After its embarrassing failure over illegal beach camping during last week’s holiday, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) says it has referred the issue to other departments for “action.”
But in an email reply to Lantau News, the department did not explain why no action was taken during Golden Week, when campers at Pui O and elsewhere spilled over onto the beach.
Incidents at Pui O, Mui Wo and Cheung Chau’s Tung Wan captured wide media attention, with some noting that mainland tourists were using the popular Pui O campsite as a cheap hotel and others pointing to the failure of authorities to act. At Silvermine Bay, a local stallholder, Mr Chan, complained to Apple Daily about tourists littering and using the sea as a toilet.
In response, LCSD director Michelle Li Mei-sheung called on people to “comply with the law” – but did not elaborate on how her department would enforce the law.
However, department has vowed to increase patrols of Islands district beaches “as necessary.”
In contrast to its passivity over breaches of camping regulations, which threaten public hygiene and beach ecology, the government has been energetic in laying down the law against live music. The Hidden Agenda venue has been raided by the Lands, Immigration, Food and Environmental Hygiene and Fire Services Departments.
The LCSD says setting up a tent or any structure on one of the city’s 41 gazetted beaches is an offence incurring a penalty of up to 14 days’ prison and HK$2000 fine.
“No camping is allowed outside the camping areas as designated by the management for safety reasons. Camping on any of the bathing beaches, including Pui O Beach, is a violation of the Bathing Beaches Regulation.
No-camping notices have been posted up at all nine bathing beaches in the Islands District, and patrols will be stepped up as necessary.
It says it has set aside 54 camping bays in Pui O for advanced booking by local residents. The other sites are available on a first-come first-serve basis.
The Pui O camping ground has become a regular site of controversy during mainland holiday periods. It is featured on mainland travel forums as a low-cost alternative to hotels and some tour companies lead tours there. Four years ago police were forced to intervene after a small riot broke out as campers quarreled over limited spaces and food.