The Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) announced today (April 15) that four new measures will be introduced with effect from June 18 with a view to further improving the booking and allocation of recreation and sports facilities and curbing touting activities.
Starting from June 18, the advance booking period of recreational and sports facilities for individual hirers will be shortened from the current 30 days to 10 days, that is, if a member of the public makes an advance booking on June 18, he or she can only book sessions up to June 27.
"We trust the new measure will minimise the chances of hirers not being able to turn up for their booked sessions due to unexpected commitments as they should have a better idea of their availability 10 days earlier. In addition, with a narrower window of 10 days, hirers will have less time to find potential buyers to transfer the hired facilities for profit, thus helping to reduce touting activities," a spokesman for the LCSD said.
The spokesman said that the 30-day advance booking arrangement will cease on May 28. Between May 28 and June 17 (the day before the new 10-day advance booking period is effective), individual hirers can make advance bookings of facilities up to June 26 only.
Furthermore, starting from June 18, the LCSD will implement a six-month trial scheme during which the standby arrangement at football pitches will be cancelled.
Taking into account the relatively high no-show rate (about 30 per cent) for bookings of football pitches and the significant proportion (about 85 per cent) of these unclaimed sessions being taken up by standby users afterwards, the department has reason to suspect that the standby arrangement has been abused. It has thus proposed to implement a trial scheme to ascertain whether and to what extent cancellation of the standby arrangement at football pitches will help curb touting activities.
"The department understands that some existing users of football pitches are concerned that the proposal may result in the facilities being left unused, thus causing wastage of venue resources. However, having regard to the overall views received during the public consultation and the support of the 18 District Councils (DCs), we decided to put the measure on trial for six months," the spokesman added.
"We believe that following the decline of touting activities due to the shortening of the advance booking period and cancellation of the standby arrangement, it will be easier for the public to book football pitches through the normal booking channels. We will collect data on venue utilisation for preliminary analysis three months after the introduction of the trial scheme, and conduct a comprehensive review in another three months' time before deciding whether the cancellation arrangement should continue or be implemented on a long-term basis."
Corresponding to the shortening of the booking period by individuals from 30 days to 10 days, the existing reallocation period offered to hirers who could not use the booked facilities due to inclement weather will also be reduced from 60 days to 15 days. The new reallocation arrangement is applicable to bookings by both individuals and organisations.
"A refund will be arranged if a hirer cannot choose a suitable date for reallocation within the 15-day period," the spokesman said.
Finally, to prevent abuse of the concessionary arrangement, the LCSD will, with effect from June 18, cease to accept bookings of sports facilities by "minders of disabled persons" using concessionary rates.
"This change will not affect the existing rights of persons with disabilities as they can still book the facilities at concessionary rates and use them with or without a minder," the spokesman added.
"Between October and December last year, the LCSD conducted a public consultation on a package of proposed measures to improve the booking and allocation arrangements for recreation and sports facilities. The parties consulted included the 18 DCs and the Community Sports Committee (CSC) under the Sports Commission, as well as national sports associations and organisations. Public opinions were also invited via the websites of the LCSD and the Home Affairs Bureau. The parties consulted and the majority of the public views received supported the new improvement measures.
Since mid-2012, the LCSD has introduced a series of measures in phases to improve the booking system of recreation and sports facilities. These have included the requirement for applicants for Leisure Link membership to register with their Hong Kong identity cards, measures to tighten up the telephone reservation service to avoid abuse, and the introduction of online services to facilitate cancellation of bookings by hirers.
For details of the new arrangements for booking and allocation of recreation and sports facilities, please visit the LCSD website (www.lcsd.gov.hk ) or call the hotline 2314 7702 from 7am to 9pm daily.
Ends/Monday, April 15, 2013
Issued at HKT 15:01