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    In South China, Tomb Sweeping Holiday Sparks Travel Surge From HK

    Data shows that delivery orders from Hong Kong users in the mainland spiked 32-fold over the Easter holiday, with milk tea as the top choice.

    From visiting amusement parks to savoring favorite meals and even seeking dental care, an increasing number of Hong Kong residents are traveling to neighboring mainland cities like Shenzhen and Guangzhou, drawn by cheaper prices and a larger variety of entertainment, food, and shopping options.

    Travel across the border surged during the recent Easter and Tomb Sweeping Day holidays. According to Hong Kong’s Immigration Department, nearly 3.731 million residents exited through various immigration control points between March 28 and April 6, with a majority heading to neighboring mainland cities.

    Data from Meituan, among China’s top food delivery platforms, shows that delivery orders from Hong Kong users in the mainland over the Easter holiday rose 32-fold compared with last year, with milk tea being the most popular item. Similarly, the number of offline transactions using WeChat Pay by mainland residents in Hong Kong tripled.

    Historically, Hong Kong has attracted mainland shoppers seeking expensive or hard-to-find products, but this trend has seemingly reversed over the past two years since China reopened its border in 2023. Initially dominated by professional shoppers, known as daigou, who transported goods from the mainland to Hong Kong, cross-border trips have now become a common activity for many residents during weekends.

    Karen Chen from Hong Kong visits Shenzhen, a major city and tech hub just north of the border, about twice a month. “Everything is more affordable, and there are more diverse options,” she told Sixth Tone. “One bowl of snail noodles that’s priced at 60 to 70 yuan ($8-$10) in Hong Kong will only cost 30 yuan in Shenzhen,” she added.

    “On regular days, it only takes one hour to cross the border, but during holidays, we spend two hours waiting in long lines,” said Chen, a 20-year-old barista, about her three-day trip to Guangzhou’s Chimelong Safari Park.

    To further boost consumer spending, various shopping malls in Shenzhen have introduced promotional activities, including special benefits for travelers from Hong Kong and discounted group purchase packages.

    The development of the Greater Bay Area, a government-initiated city cluster in southern China, has also helped improve connectivity among Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macau.

    This area spans nine cities in the Pearl River Delta, including Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, and Foshan, and the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

    Editor: Apurva.

    (Header image: Hong Kong residents at Futian Port before entering Shenzhen, Guangdong province, March 29, 2024. Courtesy of Karen Chen)