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Hong Kong is gearing up for a surge in the number of mainland Chinese visitors after the high-speed rail link finally opens next weekend, with tickets to the city sold in many destinations across the border already all gone for the first day of China’s National Day holiday on October 1.
Travellers were predicted to pour in via the rail link on the first day of “Golden Week”,and the local tourism industry was forecasting a bumper period for local businesses.
Visitors wanting to travel to the West Kowloon terminal from Beijing, Shanghai, Fuzhou, Hangzhou or Xiamen on October 1 could no longer get a ticket from China Railway Corporation’s official 12306.cn platform by Saturday.
But some tickets from these destinations were still available on Hong Kong’s online platform.
Local lawmaker Yiu Si-wing, who represents the tourism sector in the city’s legislature, estimated hotel incomes would surge by more than 10 per cent and occupancy rates would rise 5 or 6 per cent during the seven-day break, when most mainlanders are on holiday.
But he said it was hard to predict the number of visitors to Hong Kong. Chinese holidaymakers were increasingly travelling overseas during Golden Week, Yiu said, and the cost and availability of flights abroad would influence the city’s fortunes.
“If flights overseas are full and expensive, then people will choose Hong Kong,” he said.
The express rail line would bring more people from second and third-tier cities in Chinese provinces such as Jiangxi and Hunan, Yiu said, if higher-end tours were organised for them. This was because flights from these places were relatively expensive and sparse.
The Hong Kong Tourism Board meanwhile has been eyeing business opportunities. A spokeswoman said it had been working with key travel agencies in 10 cities along the rail route, including Guiyang in Guizhou province, Wuhan in Hubei, and Changsha in Hunan. It had also been working with cruise companies to offer combined train and ship packages for tourists from central and western China.
In Hong Kong, local travel agents have been vying for customers looking to use the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong line on its debut day, September 23.
China Travel Service was on Thursday advertising various tour packages for the opening day priced at between HK$799 (US$100) and HK$3,499.
Rivals Hong Thai Travel Services and Wing On Travel, two of the city’s largest agencies, rolled out three-day tours to Chaoshan in Guangdong province, a destination about three hours away by high-speed rail.
This article first appeared on www.scmp.com
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