The Chinese mainland fully resumed normal travel with the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions (SARs) starting yesterday, in what is expected to be a substantial boost for the two regions’ economic development.
After walking out of the arrival hall of Liantang Checkpoint in Luohu District at around 7 a.m. yesterday, a Hong Konger surnamed Ho took a photo with his wife to commemorate the moment with flowers and gifts from the checkpoint authority.
The couple would then go to Shunde. This was the first time in three years that the couple were able to visit their hometown in Shunde. Most of the border checkpoints between the mainland and Hong Kong had been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was really convenient because the requirement for a nucleic acid test had been scrapped. I will return to the mainland every three months, and this time I plan to stay in Shunde for 10 days,” Ho told Shenzhen Daily.
Rheneas Choi is interviewed by reporters after entering the city through Liantang Checkpoint yesterday morning. He was the first to enjoy the checkpoint’s border-crossing services for travelers. Photos by Sun Yuchen
Rheneas Choi was the first traveler that went through Liantang Checkpoint to Shenzhen in the morning. He said he planned to go shopping and sightseeing in the Liantang area.
“It is very convenient and fast to cross the border through the checkpoint,” Choi said.
The reopening of Liantang Checkpoint also witnessed the inauguration of its border-crossing services for travelers. Previously the checkpoint was only open to cargo trucks after it was first put into service in August 2020.
At the inauguration ceremony yesterday, Wang Gang, chief of Shenzhen Exit and Entry Port Office, said the full resumption of the border crossing will promote the cooperation, exchanges and further integration between Shenzhen and Hong Kong.
The checkpoint has opened 16 lanes for face-to-face inspections, 48 lanes for self-service crossing with facial recognition technology, and eight lanes for vehicles.
An aerial view of Liantang Checkpoint in this file photo taken last year.
According to Zhang Shunyu, deputy chief of the Inspection Unit of Liantang Exit-Entry Frontier Inspection Station, Liantang Checkpoint, the city’s seventh land crossing with Hong Kong, was designed to handle 30,000 travelers and 2,850 vehicles a day. The checkpoint is covered with 5G network and has adopted latest automated inspection technology for both travelers and vehicles.
Tourism and other once-vibrant industries, battered over the past three years, are expected to gradually recover.
Tourists from the Chinese mainland have long made up the majority of visitors to Hong Kong, accounting for 78.29% of the 55.91 million arrivals in 2019, according to data released by Xinhua.
A customs officer hands out a rose to an inbound traveler at Liantang Checkpoint yesterday.
Yesterday’s first group of travelers included students, cyclists and people traveling for business and family reunions.
Around 6:30 a.m. at Liantang Checkpoint, students, who were about to leave for Hong Kong for the new semester, and their parents were already queued up for departure.
Pan Qiaojuan, who lives in Luohu District, arrived early with her son for the long-awaited trip.
“I’ve been looking forward to this moment,” she said. “Today, my son will go back to his school in Hong Kong, and we will also visit his grandparents there. We haven’t seen one another for a long time.”
Group tours between the mainland and the two SARs also resumed yesterday .
Data from Alibaba’s travel portal Feizhu showed that the popularity of travel to Hong Kong and Macao has soared since the resumption announcement last Friday. It said the search volume for tickets to Hong Kong and Macao more than tripled.
The HKSAR has launched a campaign to lure tourists, business travelers and investors, announcing a series of incentives.
Hong Kong has prepared 500,000 free air tickets for global tourists, HKSAR Chief Executive John Lee announced at the “Hello Hong Kong” campaign launched Thursday.
He said visitors to Hong Kong can take advantage of an array of special offers, vouchers and other incentives to make their experience in Hong Kong more fantastic and memorable.
Macao also looks to the opportunity to boost the economy affected by COVID-19. The Macao Government Tourism Office announced Friday that it will offer 120,000 free flight tickets in 2023 to visitors from the Chinese mainland, China’s Taiwan region and overseas.