The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau (HKZM) Bridge has handled “over 14 million” passenger journeys and 1.5 million vehicles – since it started operating on October 24 last year, up to Wednesday (October 23) this year – reported Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua, citing an official called He Feng, described as the bridge’s boundary control officer.
Available data from Macau’s Statistics and Census Service – covering the period from the bridge’s inception up to September 30 this year – indicate 5.35 million arrivals – by travellers defined for immigration purposes as visitors – at the bridge’s Macau boundary checkpoint.
The 55-kilometre (34-mile) bridge spanning the Pearl River Delta maritime estuary provided for the first time a direct-line road link between Macau and the major international transport hub of Hong Kong International Airport and the rest of the Hong Kong region.
The authorities in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau jointly announced on Wednesday – coinciding with the first anniversary of bridge operations – a pilot scheme to give private-vehicle users that already have so-called “quota” rights – issued by the public authorities in order for them to be able drive on the bridge – the chance to use such rights to get to more places.
Previously, a holder of a quota for journeys originating in Hong Kong and ending in Macau would have needed separate quota in order to be permitted to travel to Zhuhai in neighbouring Guangdong province; while a holder of quota rights for journeys originating in Macau and ending in Hong Kong would also have needed separate quota in order to be permitted to travel to neighbouring Shenzhen, also in Guangdong province.
Under the pilot plan, existing private-vehicle quota holders for HKZM Bridge travel would be permitted to use their vehicles across a total of eight boundaries, including the Macau-Zhuhai crossing. Some of the eight boundaries under the new scheme are ones not physically connected directly to the bridge, including that from Hengqin island in Zhuhai prefecture, to Macau’s Cotai casino district – and that linking Shenzhen, a Guangdong manufacturing hub next door to Hong Kong, with the Hong Kong region.
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Amount that each Macau casino operator paid for the circa six-month extension of their respective contract