Guangdong residents broaden their horizons after travel restrictions relaxed A record number of Guangdong residents are heading to Hong Kong or abroad this summer to take advantage of relaxed travel restrictions. While exact figures were unavailable, Guangzhou alone processed 175,000 applications for exit visas in June - more than double the 70,000 processed in the same month last year. Officials said many of the applicants were seeking visas to visit Hong Kong. 'Hong Kong tours are really hot this summer,' said Mo Lian , a vice-director of the Guangdong Public Security Bureau's Exit and Entry Administration Department. 'Hong Kong has become the first choice for outbound travellers because the visa application is not difficult and it is relatively convenient to visit.' Under the solo travel arrangements between Hong Kong and the mainland, Guangdong residents were the first to be allowed to apply for exit visas to visit the city individually instead of joining tour groups. Each visa is valid for two visits and the holder can stay for as long as a week on each visit. 'I've been to Hong Kong three times in the past two months,' said Liu Xiaoyang , an owner of a fashion outlet in Guangzhou. 'On weekends, I like to go to Hong Kong where I can do shopping and find out more about fashion.' Tour companies are taking advantage of the new market and offering package deals to Hong Kong. They range from a one-day visit for 118 yuan to a three-day 'luxury' tour for 1,200 yuan, which includes a helicopter ride over Victoria Harbour. Wen Qian , head of GZL International Travel Service's promotion department, said business was booming. 'We expect more than 6,000 bookings to Hong Kong for each month this summer,' Ms Wen said. 'We are able to lower the cost because of the many promotion incentives offered by Hong Kong.' Ms Wen believed Europe would soon become another main attraction to more affluent Guangdong residents. Starting from September, mainlanders can visit as tourists under a new arrangement between the European Union and Beijing. 'This news will be a big boost to tours to Europe. 'We estimate there could be as many as 5,000 bookings to Europe each month from September,' she said. In the past, central government restrictions meant mainland residents could only visit Europe for business or study. Li Shangkang , a manager of the Guangdong Travel Service Group's visa department, said it was difficult to get visas for Europe due to the high demand. He said he hoped more international airlines would stop in Guangzhou as the European market opened.