HK-China travel gets a lift as high-speed rail connects to mainland

The MTR "Donggan hao" of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link stops at Guangzhou South Railway Station.

With the launch of the long-delayed rail link connecting Hong Kong to mainland China’s high-speed network on September 23, tourism players in the city are seeing immense inbound and outbound potentials.

The completion of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link means travellers will be able to ride from Hong Kong to 44 destinations in mainland China destinations without having to change trains and go through the additional clearance procedures.

The MTR of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link stops at Guangzhou South Railway Station

At press time, the government indicated 230,000 tickets have been sold, covering 44 mainland destinations.

China Travel Services (HK) is one of the 18 local ticketing agents appointed in Hong Kong. Its director for MICE service, Ng Hi On, said: “So far, outbound FIT traffic showed the biggest growth, while group tours also showed positive increase. Train journeys within four hours are popular.

“Before, we only promoted the Guangdong areas but footfall has now been extended to hot destinations along the east coast like Chaozhou, Shantou and Fuzhou. This is followed by surrounding areas of Guangdong such as Guangxi, Guilin, Hunan and Guizhou.”

The new link now enables tour groups from Hong Kong to simply hop on the train to get to China, as opposed to having to depart from Shenzhen North Station, Ng said.

Hong Kong’s inbound tourism sector is also set for a boost.

Sincere International Travel Service’s managing director, Charles Ng, said: “For the first few days of train operations, I observed (that there was) traffic from Hunan, Hubei and Fujian provinces, for which air seats to Hong Kong was limited in the past.”

“In terms of inbound groups, I reckon registered numbers will eventually return to heyday, from record-low 110 tours to 300-500 tours per day,” said Ng.

The potential to attract more rail-and-cruise holidaymakers from different origin points in China have also opened up for Hong Kong.

“Cruise travel will be another trend as there are versatile choice of vessels homeported in Hong Kong. The weekend getaway itinerary is particularly affordable, and is getting popular for mainland visitors (arriving by) rail,” Ng pointed out.

Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) will collaborate with cruise lines to promote rail-cruise products featuring Hong Kong in Southern China, Central China and West China, a spokesperson shared.

Last month, HKTB launched rail-cruise promotions in Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Wuhan and Changsha.

“The first 1,000 visitors coming to Hong Kong by HSR were offered rebates for train ticket for every cabin purchase. We will continue to work closely with our cruise line partners to attract more cruise visitors to Hong Kong,” the spokesperson said.

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