(Yicai Global) Oct. 19 -- Over 400 million tourists visited the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area last year, generating more than CNY1 trillion (USD153 billion) in revenue for the region's tourism sector, data released at the 6th Global Tourism Economy Forum held recently in Macao show.
The area comprises the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao and nine cities in the mainland's Pearl River Delta region.
Mainland Chinese tourists made 122 million outbound trips last year, of which 58 percent visited Hong Kong and Macao.
The two regions remain popular travel destinations this year, with growth in tourist numbers in Macao beating expectations during the recent National Day holiday, said Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, director of the Macao Government Tourism Office. "Inbound travelers to Macao grew 11 percent, compared with a projected increase of 3 to 5 percent," she said.
Macao has offered more diversified tourism products to meet the demand of different travelers following greater cooperation between itself, Guangdong province and Hong Kong in the tourism industry, she said. The development of the Greater Bay Area also provides Macao with a critical opportunity.
"The Greater Bay Area needs to improve soft links to further promote its tourism industry," said Bao Jigang, an official from the UN World Tourism Organization. "Efforts should go toward facilitating customs clearance, speeding up visa application processing, easing restrictions on self-driving tours in mainland China for Hong Kong and Macao residents, and an overall relaxation of regulations."
The three regions have held talks about deepening cooperation in tourism, with the goal of building the Greater Bay Area into an international travel destination, an obstacle-free tourist area and a world-class tourism cooperation zone, said Zeng Yingru, head of the Guangdong Province Tourism Administration.
Places in the Greater Bay Area should work together to promote the region and encourage each other to meet tourists' demand for culture-related tours, Hong Kong's Commissioner for Tourism Cathy Chu said.