The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on Wednesday welcomed the first large-scale tourism inspection group from the Chinese mainland since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing new hopes for wider and deeper cross-border tourism collaboration.
The group — 120 mainland tourism practitioners from 38 cities — kicked off a five-day tour of the city on Wednesday organized by the Hong Kong Tourism Board to promote the city.
From December 2022 to April, the board has arranged familiarization trips for about 700 travel and media representatives from places such as the mainland, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and India.
On Wednesday, the delegation went to flagship cultural landmarks of Hong Kong, including the Hong Kong Palace Museum, the M+ museum and Old Town Central. In the following days, they will visit more attractions and appreciate the charm of the international metropolis.
Stressing "seeing is believing," HKTB Executive Director Dane Cheng Ting-yat said he hopes the practitioners can transform their personal experiences during this trip into innovative tourism products, which will help promote Hong Kong's appeal and attract visitors to return to the city soon.
Zhou Lei, assistant general manager of Beijing Spring Travel Service, said that compared to the Forbidden City in Beijing, the Hong Kong Palace Museum is more delicate and international, which will bring tourists new experiences.
Zhou also found the M+ Museum's art exhibitions "gorgeous", saying it will attract many young tourists from the mainland and overseas.
Samuel Xia Yongping, head of the Greater Bay Area department of China International Travel Service Shenzhen, said that he plans to develop more tourism products around Hong Kong in the near future, including group tours, highend tours for families, and study tours for business people.
He will also develop weekend tours for residents living in mainland cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, as many of them have the habit of spending weekends in Hong Kong. The itinerary may include hiking on the MacLehose Trail, an overnight stay at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort and camping at Ocean Park, according to Xia.
Since Hong Kong resumed regular travel with the mainland, Xia saw a surge of mainland tourists inquiring about Hong Kong tours, and many lined up to apply for visit endorsements to Hong Kong and the Macao Special Administrative Region.
Xia expected the city will soon experience a tourist peak around the May Day holiday.
Zeng Miao, director of products of BCTS Travel Services in Sichuan province, said the trip made him realize that the COVID-19 pandemic did not stop Hong Kong from improving its attraction and competitiveness. Instead, the visionary city has made many efforts and preparations for a new start after the pandemic.