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Guangdong to lure foreign tourists
( 2003-08-22 09:58) (China Daily)

Guangdong is considering free visas to foreigners who arrive in Hong Kong and Macao to visit all cities in the province.

The move aims to attract more foreign tourists to travel in the southern Chinese province to boost Guangdong's tourism industry while strengthening links between the cities in Guangdong and Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions.

Currently, Guangdong Province provides six-day visa-free trips to foreigners from Hong Kong and Macao to visit nine cities in Pearl River Delta - Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Zhaoqing, Jiangmen, Foshan, Huizhou, Zhongshan and Dongguan.

Currently, foreign tourists who have arrived in Hong Kong and Macao have to form groups of three to 40 people to visit the nine Guangdong cities.

Zheng Tongyang, director-general of the Guangdong Tourism Bureau, yesterday promised to expand co-operation with his Hong Kong and Macao counterparts to build the southern Chinese region that includes Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao into a "golden tourist triangle" to compete with the traditional tourist destinations of Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand in Southeast Asia.

"It will also become one of major tourist attractions in the world, attracting a larger number of visitors annually, " Zheng added.

Guangdong has many famous historic relics and scenic spots, while Hong Kong is a shopping paradise and Macao is known for its casinos and entertainment sectors, said Zheng.

Zheng believes allowing Guangdong residents to visit Hong Kong and Macao individually and the CEPA (closer economic partnership arrangement) signed between the mainland and Hong Kong in late June would help speed up the development of a golden tourist triangle.

Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao will organize a series of tourism events to further promote the region's tourism development before the end of the year.

The increase of people flow will benefit the three regions, said Zheng, who estimates that more than one-third of Guangdong's total 88 million population would visit Hong Kong and Macao when all residents are allowed to travel the two SARs individually starting next year.

Each mainland visitor is estimated to spend between 2,000 yuan (US$241) and 10,000 yuan (US$1,200) in Hong Kong, contributing to the SAR's economic recovery and providing more employment opportunities, Zheng said.

More than 4 million Guangdong residents visited Hong Kong while 2.06 million travelled to Macao last year, 29.8 per cent and 28.5 per cent higher respectively than the previous year.

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