HK, neighboring Shenzhen getting cozier via visits

Updated: Jan 10, 2024 By WANG XU in Shenzhen, Guangdong China Daily Print
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This photo taken by a drone shows vehicles running on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge on July 11, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

In an intriguing cultural exchange, residents of Hong Kong are increasingly crossing the border into Shenzhen, Guangdong province, while Shenzhen residents are making the reverse journey to Hong Kong, creating a dynamic interplay of commerce, culture and leisure activities.

"It took me less than an hour to get across the border to Shenzhen. There are so many food options, and I spent most of my time walking around the shopping malls," said Chris Chan, a 32-year-old Hong Kong resident, adding that it has become a trend among his friends to shop, dine and spend their weekends in Shenzhen.

In fact, since the resumption of Customs clearance services in early 2023, the movement of people between Hong Kong and Shenzhen has seen a significant transformation. Hong Kong residents, seeking diverse experiences and economic opportunities, have flocked to Shenzhen. Meanwhile, Shenzhen residents are drawn to the vibrant streets and luxury offerings of Hong Kong.

According to Hong Kong immigration statistics, since January 2023, more than 48 million trips have been made from Hong Kong to Shenzhen. Shenzhen General Station of Exit and Entry Frontier Inspection told China Daily that new records in cross-border travel were established nearly every month in 2023, with over 253,000 entries and exits in both directions recorded at its checkpoints in just one day in August.

Under such a backdrop, EGL Tours, a Hong Kong-based travel agency, introduced its two-day Shenzhen Sam's Club Tour last Wednesday. In just a week, over 3,000 participants have eagerly signed up for the tour, with all slots fully booked for January.

Steve Huen Kwok-chuen, executive director of EGL Tours, highlighted that the significant surge — which he said was three times higher than visits to Japan or other overseas destinations — is attributable to the upcoming Spring Festival, prompting many Hong Kong residents to travel to the mainland for New Year's shopping, with warehouse supermarkets like Sam's Club gaining particular popularity.

"To meet the shopping needs of our tour group members, we've arranged a full day of shopping at Sam's Club in Shenzhen, reserving 29 inches of luggage space for each person," he added.

However, it is not just Hong Kong residents who are embracing Shenzhen.

Luxury goods shopping, reveling in extravagant New Year's festivities and immersing oneself in the unique cultural atmosphere of Hong Kong have become magnets for Shenzhen residents too.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board pointed to a notable surge in Shenzhen visitors during key events. The city's renowned New Year's Eve festivities, featuring a record-breaking 12-minute fireworks display — the largest ever — have attracted over 479,000 spectators, including approximately 223,000 visitors.

But logistical challenges emerged after the New Year's Eve celebrations. Many mainland tourists who flocked to Hong Kong for the grand event but had not booked hotel rooms, found themselves stranded at checkpoints, shedding light on the need for improved coordination and infrastructure.

However, Li Wei, who ventured into Hong Kong for the event, said the one flaw does not overshadow the overall excellence.

"The grandeur of the fireworks show and the vibrant atmosphere of Hong Kong's New Year's Eve celebration are unparalleled. It's worth the visit every year," Li said.

Yi Yang contributed to this story.

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