HONG KONG, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) -- Benefiting from the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) witnessed a record high of tourist arrivals last year.
Data released by the Hong Kong Tourism Board showed that the overall tourist arrivals soared to around 65.1 million in 2018, up 11.4 percent from that of 2017. Among the overall growth, visitor arrivals from the mainland saw a rise of 14.8 percent to 51 million.
As the cross-border infrastructure further ties up the Hong Kong SAR and the mainland, Hong Kong will further promote tourism in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (Greater Bay Area), said tourism industry insiders.
"From the latter half of 2017, Hong Kong began to see an upturn in tourism, and witnessed a continuous increase in the number of tourists in 2018," said Yiu Si-wing, member of the Legislative Council of the HKSAR.
"Since the operation of the Express Rail Link and the bridge, we see an apparent growth in visitor arrivals to Hong Kong." Yiu pointed out.
He viewed tourists from the mainland as the driving force to push Hong Kong's visitor arrivals to a new high. "It takes less time and fewer procedures for those visitors to Hong Kong via the Express Rail Link than before when they need to transfer to Hong Kong after first arriving at Shenzhen," said Yiu.
Cross-border infrastructure has facilitated the transportation between the mainland and Hong Kong by integrating the SAR into the national high-speed railway network.
An increasing number of tourists traveled by the Express Rail Link to Hong Kong, and to meet their demand for in-depth tour, new routes featuring natural and cultural characteristics have been introduced, said Ng Hi-on from China Travel Service.
The Hong Kong Tourism Board has promoted "Old Town Central" and "Hong Kong Neighborhoods" as tailored tours for travelers to experience Hong Kong.
Besides, tourists can enjoy festivals and events in Hong Kong, such as night parade, horse racing and flower markets.
Cruise tour is another product the Hong Kong Tourism board has promoted. After the launch of the Express Rail Link in September 2018, the Dream Cruises company introduced a "rail cruise" route in November, welcoming more than 1,000 tourists from Hubei and Yunnan provinces and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region to Hong Kong for a land-sea trip.
Tourism in the Greater Bay Area has huge potential, as cities in the area can work with one another to develop multi-destination travel with cross-border infrastructure, according to Anthony Lau, the executive director of the Hong Kong Tourism Board.
Yiu said that travelers can travel through cities in the Greater Bay Area via transport links and the tour pattern enriches their trip.
He called for more efforts by Guangdong Province, and the Hong Kong and Macao SARs to forge closer bonds so as to build the Greater Bay Area into a tourism brand.