To meet the increasing demand for passenger crossings in three major cities in China, in 1982, an agreement between the government of Hong Kong and Shenzhen authorities was created to improve connections by opening new road links. In a unique answer to this agreement, it was decided that roads would be created that would cross the Pearl River Delta (PRD) in China across 31 miles of water.
The Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge was the one-of-a-kind answer to this scenario. And so, on December 15, 2009, the task of building the world’s longest bridge officially began to the tune of an expected cost of US$10.6 billion. When completed, it will be a series of bridges and tunnels that will cross the Lingdingyang channel, and will become a landmark unto itself.
The route will be connected by a series of roads beginning on the east side of Chek Lap Kok in Hong Kong into a border checkpoint area and continue south of Hong Kong International Airport heading west into the Pearl River Delta. Upon reaching the western marine boundary of Hong Kong, it will turn into an underwater tunnel and re-surface to connect with a series of two tower bridges.
Near Macau and Zhuhai, the route becomes a bowstring bridge destined for a second border checkpoint where it will connect to Zhuhai Link Road with road connections in Zhuhai. The final tunnel joint was installed on May 2, 2017, with the anticipated date of completion sometime at the end of this year.
Most tourism stakeholders believe the impact of the bridge will boost the tourism industry in Hong Kong. It will provide tourists with the opportunity of visiting Macau and the western part of the Pearl River Delta by road on top of visiting Hong Kong. The new multi-destination itineraries will definitely enhance the tourist experience in the region, and it has been a strong selling point for Hong Kong’s tourism promotion. Not only that, tourists will be able to claim they rode on the world’s longest bridge.
Another advantage is that the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau link will also encourage more Macau and PRD residents to visit Hong Kong and shop there. The growing number of these inbound visitors will give a further boost to the local tourism industry, and their spending will enhance the economy as well.
On the other hand, some tourism representatives see the bridge as a threat to Hong Kong’s tourism industry, believing the new bridge will mean fewer people will travel to China or Macau via Hong Kong. Tourism is an important revenue generator for Hong Kong, so a decrease in the number of tourists would adversely affect the region.
Some see the bridge as a mar on the natural beauty of Tung Chung Bay in Hong Kong where a section of the road will pass through, harming the tourism experience in the area, which includes the Ngong Ping 360 cable car, Tung Chung retail outlets, and country park walks around the bay.
The Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge was designed to be in service for 120 years, with the ability to withstand winds of over 180 kilometers per hour, an 8-magnitude earthquake, and being struck by a 300,000-ton vessel. So, whether it will affect tourism in a positive or negative way is yet to be seen, but without a doubt, it is here to stay for quite a while.
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