‘Palace museum can’t charge mainlanders more’

The head of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, Henry Tang, said on Monday that the authority would be “scolded by 1.4 billion compatriots” if it were to charge tourists more than locals to visit the SAR’s new Palace Museum.

DAB lawmaker Lau Kwok-fan, who chairs a Legco subcommittee on the arts hub, earlier floated the idea of concessions for locals and higher charges for non-local visitors at the M+ visual arts museum and the Palace Museum.

Tang said the idea, although feasible with M+, would not work at the Palace Museum when it opens in mid-2022 – as all of its exhibits are being loaned from Beijing’s Palace Museum.

“If we are charging them a higher price, then the 1.4 billion mainland compatriots will be angry at us, because they are lending their exhibits to us but we are charging them a higher price,” Tang said.

Tang said the authority would roll out a series of promotions after the pandemic to attract visitors from around the world, saying its cash flow needs improving.

He said although the authority had operating expenses of only HK$900 million in the past financial year – one-third less than expected – it has yet to roll out a project that actually earns money for the authority.

The long-delayed M+ is expected to open later this year, with the Palace Museum slated for opening around the middle of next year.