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Tuesday, October 09, 2018, 13:01
Express rail link boosts HK tourism
By Luo Weiting
Tuesday, October 09, 2018, 13:01 By Luo Weiting

A man poses with a "giant ticket" inside the first high-speed train from Shenzhen, Guangdong province to Hong Kong's West Kowloon Station in the morning of Sept 23, 2018. (PARKER ZHENG / CHINA DAILY)

Hong Kong’s tourism sector experienced a bumper National Day Golden Week holiday this year, as the newly opened cross-border high-speed rail link attracted more holiday-makers from the Chinese mainland.

Hong Kong and Macao retained their crowns as the top destinations for Chinese mainland short-haul trippers during the Golden Week holiday

More than 1.52 million mainland tourists visited Hong Kong during the week-long break, up 20 percent year-on-year, according to data from Hong Kong’s Immigration Department. 

Hong Kong and Macao retained their crowns as the top destinations for Chinese mainland short-haul trippers during the Golden Week holiday, according to a report released on Sunday by online travel agency Tongcheng-ELong Holdings and Tongcheng International Travel Service.

“The highly anticipated high-speed rail link comes as a much-awaited booster for Hong Kong’s tourism industry, so much so, the growth of mainland visitor arrivals during the Golden Week holiday really was beyond our expectations,”said local tourism sector lawmaker Yiu Siwing.

READ MORE: XRL sees 880,000 trips between mainland, HK in 2 weeks

Mass Transit Railway Corporation, which operates the HK$84.4 billion local stretch of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, said on Sunday that 650,000 trips between Hong Kong and mainland destinations were made using the link from Sept 28 to Oct 7.

That sent the total number of passenger trips to and from Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Station since the new rail line got off to a smooth start on Sept 23 to more than 880,000.

MTR, which also operates the city’s subway system, said more than 1 million tickets have been sold for the express rail link.

ALSO READ: HK retail sales value up 9.5%

On Friday, the number of passengers on the bullet trains hit an all-time high of 80,020, meeting the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government’s initial estimate of average daily ridership of 80,000 for the first time.

Charles Ng Kwongwai, chairman of the Hong Kong Inbound Tour Operators Association, said the number of tour groups visiting the city during the Golden Week was up more than 10 percent year-on-year, and the best performance in five years.

Ng said he believed the new high-speed railway, which slashes travel time between Hong Kong and Guangzhou, capital of neighboring Guangdong province, to 47 minutes from the previous two hours, was helping the city retain itsallure and rekindling mainland tourists’ desire to visit Hong Kong.

The city’s retailers were said to have ended the Golden Week on a strong note. Local wholesale and retail sector lawmaker Peter Shiu Kafai said earlier that pharmacies were believed to have seen sales rise 20 percent year-on-year during the break, while jewelers and cosmetics stores also posted double digit sales growth.

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