On-arrival visas to Macau and Hong Kong – as well as the loosening of border inspections – are among ideas proposed in a Guangdong government-commissioned study on the future “Greater Bay Area”.
The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area is part of China’s strategic plan to turn the coastal part of the Pearl River Delta – covering nine cities in the mainland’s Guangdong province, as well as Hong Kong and Macau – into an integrated economic zone. The Greater Bay Area concept was officially proposed by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during the 12th National People’s Congress in March this year.
The report has been prepared by a study panel of the China Centre for International Economic Exchanges. It was presented on May 3 to senior officials of the Guangdong provincial government, including Governor Ma Xingrui.
Wang Fuqiang, deputy head of the study panel, told the Guangdong-based Southern Metropolis News that the study proposes relaxing the restrictions for mainland residents traveling to Macau and Hong Kong, such as: providing on-arrival visas for residents of the Greater Bay Area; extending validity for one-off visas; as well as authorising lower level government to issue visas. It also supports getting rid of outbound border inspections across the region.
Based on the study, the Guangdong government has prepared a draft plan that has already been sent to the Macau and Hong Kong authorities for consultation. It is expected that a finalised plan will be submitted to the central government by September.
Recently, the head of the Macao Government Tourist Office said it expected the number of tourists visiting Macau in 2017 to show a 5 percent rise compared to 2016. The easing of visa and border regulations could potentially boost the number of mainland visitors to Macau.
The number of visitors to Macau in the first quarter of 2017 rose 5.6 percent year-on-year, to just over 7.87 million, according to data released in April by the city’s Statistics and Census Service. Visitors from mainland China made up 67.5 percent of the first-quarter total, or nearly 5.32 million arrivals, an increase of 7.6 percent year-on-year.
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