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Special Report - Greater Bay Area

Hong Kong at the heart of Greater Bay Area’s 11-city tourism alliance

Visitors could land in Hong Kong, and be within an hour’s commute of 11 cities’ diverse attractions

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 May, 2018, 9:17am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 May, 2018, 9:17am

The Greater Bay Area could soon be a tourism boost for its member cities. Last December, the 11 tourism authorities within the GBA formalised their collaboration by establishing the Tourism Federation of Cities in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau Bay Area.

The area’s potential as a world-class tourism and leisure precinct is expected to create more attractions, and more incentives to stay and play.

Visitors could fly in to either Hong Kong or Shenzhen airports, and be within a one-hour commute of 11 key cities in the Pearl River Delta, according to a report by real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield.

For example, a tourist could spend the morning sightseeing in Hong Kong and, in the afternoon, explore Macau, an hour away, via the 42-kilometre long Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, which will be one of the world’s longest.

Want to see how the world’s fourth-largest core Central Business District – billed as “South China’s Manhattan” – is shaping up in Qianhai? A trip to Shenzhen from Hong Kong could take only about 12 minutes, once the new high-speed rail link begins services in September.

Investment in tourism megaprojects will see the construction of new hotels, entertainment hubs, shopping arcades and theme parks, and all could be accessible to travellers from Hong Kong.

New World Development Company is building Skycity at Hong Kong International Airport, introducing an innovative indoor and outdoor go-kart track and AR and VR game facilities in the city’s largest commercial entertainment hub.

Positioned as a retail and entertainment centre for locals and visitors from the Greater Bay Area and abroad, the 3.77 million sq ft development is expected to be completed in phases from 2023 to 2027.

In Hengqin, near Macau, Lai Sun Group sees Novotown, its new integrated tourism and entertainment project, as a cultural hub of the GBA.

It will incorporate movie-themed amusement park Lionsgate Entertainment World, the experiential National Geographic Ultimate Explorer, a multi-purpose performance hall, wedding venue and Hyatt Regency Hotel.

Chimelong International Ocean Resort is building its second theme park in Hengqin, featuring the Chimelong Marine Science Museum, the largest of its kind in the world. Preparations for a supersized Ocean Adventure Park, Indoor Ocean World, a gondola lift and mountaintop park are also under way.

Cushman & Wakefield believes such attractions could being over 50 million visitors annually to Hengqin.

[The GBA represents] a brand new landscape ahead for regional and international collaboration in tourism
Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, director, Macao Government Tourism Office

“Levering its proximity to Macau and with a number of major theme parks under development, we see Hengqin emerging as a significant focus of tourism within the Greater Bay Area in coming years,” says Reed Hatcher, head of research, Hong Kong, Cushman & Wakefield.

Meanwhile, Macau’s entertainment role shines ever brighter, with imminent headline-act arrivals such as Celine Dion live at The Venetian Macao’s Cotai Arena (on June 29-30), and Mariah Carey (on October 20).

Macau’s newest hotel, Morpheus, the flagship hotel for the City of Dreams leisure and entertainment complex in Cotai, is also an architectural and technological breakthrough: the world’s first free-form exoskeleton high rise.

Hong Kong residents are ideally situated to enjoy all the GBA’s new leisure activities, according to Catherine Tsang, partner, PwC.

“Instead of flying to Bangkok or Japan for a long weekend, why not spend it in southern China, enjoying services and experiences closer to home?” she says.

Such a trip needn’t involve a flight, but be taken by a high-speed train service that is expected to start operations in Q3 this year, making Guangzhou is only 45 minutes away from Hong Kong, Tsang says.

“It’s so convenient and comfortable – you bring your kids, jump on a train, and take a taxi to your hotel.” Macao Government Tourism Office director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes sees “unprecedented possibilities” ahead for tourism under GBA collaboration.

Leveraging the unique characteristics of each area in the region represents a boon to the development of multidestination tourism, shaping “a brand new landscape ahead for regional and international collaboration in tourism”, she says.

De Senna Fernandes also sees the GBA’s tourism federation as a milestone for comprehensive tourism cooperation.

“It will not only push forward tourism cooperation and interchanges between the three destinations but also foster their joint branding as one international tourism destination,” she says.

“Their forging of a new tourism benchmark as a world-class Bay Area creates a strong momentum for the tourism development of the entire region of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau and the national tourism development.”