Last week’s opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HKZMB) has started to draw the attention of visitors from the three cities now connected by the road link. Additionally, tourism officials and local entrepreneurs in Hong Kong have expressed hopes that the new link will boost local tourism from a 2015 downturn.
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Stella Kwan, local entrepreneur and managing director of the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car, believes that the HKZMB will be the boost that the region, and particularly the Island of Lantau, needs.
Kwan told the South China Morning Post (SCMP) that she has been in a long wait of 12 years for the cross-border bridge, believing that such infrastructure will have the power to “reshape the tourism industry on Lantau Island.”
Kwan believes that Lantau could emerge as a new tourism hub, encouraging tourists to visit parts of the city other than the traditionally popular Tsim Sha Tsui and Causeway Bay.
“Since we started our business on Lantau Island 12 years ago, the development has been relatively slow, and Hong Kong hasn’t built any major new attractions in the past two or three years,” Kwan said, adding, “We have waited for the bridge for a long time, and look forward to the completion of the third runway, and the Skycity [at Hong Kong International Airport].”
Kwan hopes that Lantau can become a “self-contained destination” where “visitors can shop, eat, go to concerts, hike, visit the Tai O fishing village, take the cable car, tour the island, and stay overnight at Disneyland,” she said.
The Bridge can work together with the aforementioned ongoing projects at the airport area, namely the Skycity development — a huge commercial, hotel and retail project located right next to the airport. The first phase of Skycity’s construction is expected to be completed by 2023, with full completion planned for 2027.
The Hong Kong Tourism Board has predicted the bridge and the new cross-border high-speed rail link will boost tourist numbers to the city by 3.6 percent, to about 60 million people.
Allan Zeman, founder of Central’s entertainment district Lan Kwai Fong, also said the Bridge could reposition Lantau, which used to be heavily dependent on farming, to become “a very important part” of the city’s tourism sector.
“The Greater Bay Area has 67 million people, Lantau will become the entrance point for people coming from there,” Zeman said.
Zeman added that tourism packaging to the whole “bay area” would certainly appeal to tourists and could open up a new market not just for Chinese tourists but also those from other countries.
“Many people, foreigners from overseas, from South Asia, Southeast Asia, from Korea have come to Hong Kong or Japan,” he said to SCMP, “But now we have something new to offer to get people to come to the Greater Bay Area, to come to all these cities.” RM
HKZMBh: 59,000 passengers during one day
According to data from the Immigration Department of Hong Kong, the number of people using the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge (HKZMB) on October 27 was about 59,000, the highest since the opening of the bridge. On Saturday, the number of arrivals at the Hong Kong port of the HKZMB was 26,804, while departures amounted to 31,906. The total, 58,710, marked a new high since the bridge’s opening.