Roundup: Double festivals highlight trend of HK, mainland visitors having fun both ways

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HONG KONG, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- During this year's Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holidays, Hong Kong launched a series of festive events, such as Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance, a national intangible cultural heritage. After a five-year hiatus, Hong Kong's National Day fireworks display will also return, lighting up the sky over Victoria Harbour.

After the full resumption of normal travel early this year, the Chinese mainland tourists are keen on shopping and sightseeing in Hong Kong, while Hong Kong residents are increasingly traveling north for leisure and consumption. The Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holidays witness a bustling crowd at various ports between Shenzhen and Hong Kong.

Chen Chao, a Shenzhen youth working in finance in Hong Kong, frequently travels between the two places. As an experienced cross-border commuter, he acts as a tour guide for his Shenzhen friends in Hong Kong and often recommends the latest popular food in Shenzhen to his Hong Kong colleagues.

Chen said he recently took friends from Shenzhen to visit the Hong Kong Palace Museum, where they were amazed by the dazzling array of rare treasures on display. In the past, to see these treasures, they had to fly for over three hours from Shenzhen to Beijing. Now, they can see the most exquisite collections embodying the essence of Chinese civilization by taking a high-speed train to West Kowloon, Hong Kong, in less than 30 minutes.

Heading north also has its attractions. "There are mountains and seas, modern complexes, and cultural districts with historical heritage," Chen said, noting that Shenzhen's development speed, especially in urban construction, is remarkable.

"I took my Hong Kong friends to Shenzhen Bay Park for leisure sightseeing and experienced the integration of urban and ecological environments along the mangrove coastline," Chen said. "They felt very surprised at the city's significant changes in recent years."

According to statistics from the Immigration Department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the number of entries and exits in Hong Kong has been continuously increasing since the border was fully reopened.

From February to August this year, more than 120 million trips in and out of Hong Kong have been registered at the ports. This summer break has set a new record, with nearly 44 million total entries and exits, averaging about 700,000 per day.

Data from Bank of China (Hong Kong) shows that in the first five months of this year, retail transactions by Hong Kong customers holding the bank's credit cards in the mainland increased by more than 80 percent year-on-year. Consumption mainly took place in the department store and catering categories in Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

Various Shenzhen dining and entertainment sharing groups have emerged on Hong Kong social media. The guides shared in these groups are detailed, including how to order, how to get coupons, and how to plan a full day's itinerary from dining to massages.

Hong Kong's culinary explorers are increasingly flocking to large shopping malls in Shenzhen, such as One Avenue in Futian CBD, boosting vibrancy of numerous subway-accessible malls with their presence.

"Now we are receiving more and more Hong Kong customers, and there are often queues during busy periods, but this doesn't deter their enthusiasm," said Wu Ying, an employee at a nail salon in Futian district.

The integration of payment methods has also provided great convenience for Hong Kong residents to make frequent purchases in Shenzhen. In the past, withdrawing cash at a bank was often the first stop for Hong Kong visitors to the mainland, but recently, they have embraced convenient mobile payment options like Alipay and WeChat Pay.

For mainland tourists, Hong Kong's attractions remain prominent, including shopping, landmarks and a variety of cultural activities.

As a melting pot of Eastern and Western culture, Hong Kong's cultural life is diverse. From Chinese opera and Broadway musicals to acclaimed international dance troupes, orchestras, and art exhibitions, these events continue all year round.

"Since the beginning of this year, there have been almost no interruptions in large-scale exhibitions held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre," said He Yuan, a Shenzhen resident. "The concerts at the Central Harbourfront Event Space attracted audiences from all over the world, and the grand occasion is still vivid in my memory." Enditem

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