Hong Kong, Macao most popular outbound destinations for mainland visitors during New Year's Day holidays; HK vows to optimize travel reception after mainland tourists stranded
Published: Jan 02, 2024 07:29 PM
Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions were the most popular outbound travel destinations for the mainland tourists during the New Year's Day holidays, the Global Times learned from multiple major Chinese travel platforms on Tuesday. 

According to data provided to the Global Times on Tuesday from Chinese online travel agency platform Qunar, Hong Kong and Macao ranked as top one and top four destinations for outbound travel among top 10 outbound travel destinations during the New Year's Day holidays. Another online travel agency recorded similar record numbers for Hong Kong and Macao.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board on Sunday night, the last night of 2023, celebrated the arrival of 2024 with a grand fireworks and music show, which lasted for 12 minutes and was the largest in history. The event attracted a large number of locals and tourists who eagerly awaited the display. Hong Kong local media reported that more than 479,000 people on both sides of the Victoria Harbor watched the event, including about 223,000 tourists.

However, after the fireworks display, many mainland tourists, who had come to Hong Kong to watch the show but had not booked a hotel room, were unable to return to Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province, which has sparked controversy. 

In response, Chief Secretary for Administration Eric Chan Kwok-ki announced on Tuesday that a high-level government meeting will be held to coordinate clearance arrangements before major events in the future. Also he said discussions will be held with the mainland authorities to extend the opening hours of railway crossings and increase the number of 24-hour clearance points.

The remarks followed many passengers flooded Huanggang Port, the only control point that allows 24-hour clearance for returning to Shenzhen, after the fireworks display, between 12 am and 6 am on Monday, to leave Hong Kong and return to the mainland, resulting in a large influx of people in a short period of time.

According to media reports, long queues were seen at cross-boundary through-bus stops in many districts in Hong Kong late at night. Many had to spend the night at the train station in Sheung Shui. Some even stayed overnight sleeping in a nearby McDonald's. 

Many mainland tourists took to social media platforms such as to complain about arrangements.

Tourism companies pointed out that similar situations had occurred during local concerts as early as November 2023, but the regional authorities did not make arrangements in advance, damaging Hong Kong's image as a travel destination. 

The Principal Transport Officer of the Transport Department (TD), Ken Wong Pak-kin, on Tuesday explained that the Huanggang Port, which is under redevelopment, requires the use of temporary facilities for travel, and the number of cross-boundary passengers in both directions is about 30,000 per day, according to local media.

Some local lawmakers suggested that another Luohu Port should be open 24 hours a day during major holidays such as New Year's Eve and the second day of the Chinese New Year.

He said this incident serves as a warning for Hong Kong, and he hopes that the authorities can provide better support for receiving tourists.

The Hong Kong Transport Department on Tuesday stated that it will review the situation and discuss with relevant departments whether it is possible to optimize the clearance arrangements and facilitate the flow of cross-border buses. Measures under consideration include allocating specific lanes for these buses on the road leading to the border, while other vehicles use different lanes.