The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge plays an important role in the development of the Greater Bay Area. (WANG SHANGLIN / FOR CHINA DAILY)
The tourism and logistics sectors in Hong Kong, Macao and western Guangdong hold great market potential driven by the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB), a year after the world's longest cross-sea bridge opened to traffic, according to industry insiders.
As of Wednesday, the 55-kilometer bridge has carried over 24 million passengers, an average of 67,000 passengers per day, and 1.5 million vehicles across southern China since opening Oct 24 last year, according to the Guangdong government.
The bridge's average number of daily passengers has exceeded 48,000 people – the government's estimated daily volume in the preliminary stage. Over 70,000 cars from Hong Kong, Guangdong and Macao are qualified to use the HZMB.
Many large manufacturing companies in southwestern Guangdong, which need to have their goods exported to Hong Kong – Zhuhai, Zhongshan and Jiangmen in particular – have successively changed their transport routes from ports in Shenzhen to ports at HZMB, which could save them between three and four hours on the road
Frank Jin, founder of Yirong Customs Declaration Agent in Zhuhai
Timothy Chui Ting-pong, executive director of the Hong Kong Tourism Association, noted that the bridge has become a symbolic tourism spot across the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, with its unique engineering design and magnificent views blending sea, mountains and metropolises altogether.
Chui told China Daily that the bridge has attracted considerable travelers from or to Hong Kong since opening, with a traveling time of just one hour across the sea.
However, he pointed out that as social unrest in Hong Kong kept gripping the city after June 9, visitors to the city have slumped.
Chui said he hopes Hong Kong can return to peace as soon as possible and said that the number of travelers to the city will pick up.
In the future, he anticipates tourism facilities at the eastern artificial island of HZMB to open to visitors soon and further unleash the potential of the bridge.
As of the end of September, goods with a total value of some $8.4 billion have been exported through HZMB from 26 provinces on the mainland, in which over 90 percent were from Zhuhai.
Frank Jin is the founder of Yirong Customs Declaration Agent in Zhuhai, a leading local broker assisting companies to declare products at HZMB Customs and get them across the border to Hong Kong.
With about 300 cargo vehicles traveling between Hong Kong and Zhuhai through HZMB on an average day, Jin said his companies have dealt with over 10,000 sets of customs declaration in the past year, under steady growth of the bridge's freight volume.
He said that many large manufacturing companies in southwestern Guangdong, which need to have their goods exported to Hong Kong – Zhuhai, Zhongshan and Jiangmen in particular – have successively changed their transport routes from ports in Shenzhen to ports at HZMB, which could save them between three and four hours on the road.
Most of them are enterprises in Zhuhai, such as electronic devices manufacturers Philips, Flex and Panasonic, Jin said.
It takes time for market demand to be fostered, while operations of manufacturing companies don't change overnight, Jin stressed.
Noting that protests in Hong Kong do affect some businesses across the border, Jin said he remains positive.
He said he believes the total volume of freight traffic on HZMB will double next year, with its gateway to the broad markets in southwestern Guangdong, efficient logistics distribution and clearance facilities and competitive costs.
Kou Kun-pang, president of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport in Macao, said the bridge has provided more transport options for residents and travelers in Macao.
Kou noted that at least 40 percent of ferry passengers have turned to the bridge to travel between Hong Kong and Macao.
As the bridge's Hong Kong port is located next to Hong Kong International Airport, Kou said it has attracted more people in Macao to the airport with less travel time across the sea.
To make the trip smoother, Kou suggested governments on both sides to borrow experience from the Macao ferry to Hong Kong airport, which simplified immigration and customs procedures and allows flyers from Macao to go directly to the airport waiting hall without crossing Hong Kong borders.
Moreover, he also urged the government of the Macao special administrative region to accelerate construction of the planned logistics center at Macao Port and better use the bridge's freight capacity, so that relative industries in Macao can embrace better development under closer connection with Hong Kong.
HONG KONG NEWS