Huizhou has been blessed with considerable untapped maritime resource and humanistic resources along its coastal area.
The Da’ao Village at the Huidong Port is quietly undergoing a major change. Here along the beaches, you can see a rising number of homestays, as well as the infinity pools, floor-to-ceiling windows, flamingo-shaped swim rings, cafes fluttering out of the rich coffee fragrance, somehow you are mistaken to believe that you are having an island tour in Hainan or Southeast Asia. Any new visitor to this village will be attracted by the beautiful views of these modernized homestays and the local profound culture. With the rapid development of coastal tourism in Huizhou, more and more Da’ao-like villages are on the rise in the coastal area of Huizhou.
The Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area points out that efforts should be made to explore tourism itineraries involving Macao with neighboring cities and islands, and explore opening up a Hong Kong-Shenzhen-Huizhou-Shanwei sea travel route. How this new see travel route will affect the tourism development in Huizhou? Reporters from Huizhou Daily interview relevant stakeholders, including government officials and market insiders within the tourism sector.
■Opportunity: To develop a fast and convenient sea route network in the eastern Guangdong
The San Francisco Bay Area, the New York Bay Area and the Tokyo Bay Area are the regions with the most dynamic economic innovation in the world.
The so called Bay Area is not merely a geographical concept or an economic phenomenon, but an atypical but the most distinctive feature in the tourism industry. Not surprisingly, New York, San Francisco, Tokyo and their adjacent cities are all world-famous tourist destinations.
Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area points out that effort should be made to develop a vibrant and internationally competitive first-class bay area and world-class city cluster, and build a role model of high-quality development.
Huizhou has been mentioned several times in the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, covering spatial layout, construction of a modern industrial system with international competitiveness and construction of a quality living circle for living, working and travelling; and more specifically, the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area stresses that efforts should be made to explore tourism itineraries involving Macao with neighboring cities and islands, and explore opening up a Hong Kong-Shenzhen-Huizhou-Shanwei sea travel route. For Huizhou, it will be a rare opportunity to speed up the development of a fast and convenient sea route network in the eastern Guangdong.
With the combined effect of several factors, including the rising of leisure tourism in the PRD region and the tourism-real estate industry, as well as the transfer of coastal leisure tourism from Shenzhen and Hong Kong, Huizhou has seen a rising number of tourists opting for coastal tour in recent years, and its tourism industry is developing with an unprecedentedly speed. A coastal tourism development zone, encompassing Yapojiao, Xunliao Bay and Shuangyue Bay, is gradually taking shape; and Renping Peninsular now plays a greater role in meeting the coastal tourism demands for residents in Shenzhen or the entire PRD region. However, Huizhou is also troubled by some problems amidst the booming development of tourism, such as heavy tourist flow in the peak season and insufficient transportation capacity among others.
According to a government official from Huizhou’s Culture, Radio, Film, Press, Publication, Tourism and Sports Bureau, “The opening of this new sea travel route will help improve the regional transportation capacity, ease the traffic pressure during the tourism peak season, enhance the accessibility among different scenic spots and promote the balanced development of Huizhou.”
Huizhou has also carried out a feasibility study on its sea travel route development. By building a first-class port hub terminal, a second-class transfer terminal and a third-class basic port, Huizhou will be able to connect with Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan as well as the Southeast Asia. Daya Bay, major tourism attractions along the coastal area of Huidong and all major islands will be connected and form tourism circle, with Renping Peninsular as the core and Xunliao Bay and Shuangyue Bay as the centers and the commute time among different place no more than one hour. This planning framework has laid a solid foundation for the sea travel route development of Huizhou.
■Advantage: Huizhou has been blessed with abundant coastal tourism resources.
Huizhou has been blessed with abundant maritime resource and humanistic resources along its coastal area, including the coastal line with a length of 281.4 kilometers, 162 islands, Shuangyue Bay, Turtle Bay as well as the fisherman's song in Huidong, a local culture that has been listed as a state-level intangible heritage item. These have laid a solid foundation for the development of Huizhou tourism, especially the expansion from river-driven to sea-driven development mode.
In line with incomplete statistics, Huidong and Daya Bay are home to abundant tourism resources. There are a total of 123 coastal tourist attractions in these two places, including 71 natural resources and 52 humanities resources, with the attraction types covering sandy beaches, hot springs, forests, islands, cultural relics, folk culture, mountain scenery and so on.
In recent years many starred hotels and famous brands in the tourism industry from home and abroad have increased their investment in Huizhou, resulting in the booming development of maritime-themed tourism in Huizhou; and gradually Huizhou has become the premium coastal tourist destination within the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao region.
Huizhou’s rapid growth in its tourism sector also yields excellent economic result. During this year’s Spring Festival holiday, the city’s tourism revenue reached 1.895 billion year, including 370 million yuan from Huidong, with a year-on-year increase of 7.2%.
According to the dig data research report by Huizhou Branch of China Mobile Guangdong Co., Ltd, most of the tourists participating in the coastal tour in Huizhou are from city clusters within the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, especially from Shenzhen, Dongguan and Guangzhou.
“Huizhou has been provided with excellent coastal line resources, and the seasonable volatility during the navigation period is rather minor”, said a government official from Huizhou’s Culture, Radio, Film, Press, Publication, Tourism and Sports Bureau. Thanks to the improvement of infrastructure facilities, Huizhou is now ready to build a three-dimensional transportation network; and with the rapid growth of the tourist number, more and more tourists are demanding diversified transportation means. The official further added that, “With the opening of this Hong Kong-Shenzhen-Huizhou-Shanwei sea travel route, Huizhou is in a better position to launch more marine tourism products in the future, participate in the development of the eastern PRD coastal tourism belt, and further enhance the power of influence of coastal tourism of Huizhou.”
■Suggestion: To build a multi-layered marine tourism product mix
According to Mr. Yan Zhibin, vice-general manager of Huizhou Youth International Travel Agency Co. Ltd, it is very likely that sea travel will become the most prominent feature of travelling in Huizhou. He added that, “there are over 100 islands along the Hong Kong-Shenzhen-Huizhou-Shanwei sea travel route. Once these islands are connected, the scale of island tourism in this region can surpass that in Thailand.”
According to Mr. Li Changxing, President of Huidong Tourism Association, the mentioning of tourism development in the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area will not only speed up the development of coastal tourism in Huizhou, but also stimulate the healthy growth of other marine economics. In addition, the development of coastal tourism will accelerate the implementation of coastal tourism development and protection policies, which will help fishermen find other job opportunities and improve their income level.
According to Professor Wu Zhicai, a consultant for the all-for-one tourism development of Huizhou and director of the Guangdong Tourism Strategy and Policy Research Center from the South China University of Technology, “the Hong Kong-Shenzhen-Huizhou-Shanwei sea travel route can be considered as a greenway connecting a premium sea travel route, and all world-class tourism resources in the adjacent areas can be connected.” He further added that Honghai Bay, Daya Bay, Renping Peninsular and Dapeng Peninsular are all world-class tourism resources; and once the transportation problem has been solved, this region will see a rapid growth in the tourism sector.
The opening of this new sea travel route will help create a new lifestyle and strengthen the connection among these four cities. According to Professor Wu Zhicai, it is important to turn this sea travel route into a public product that serves the best interests of these four cities. In other words, it is very necessary to coordinate resources through the top level design, and attach importance to the location and construction of the wharfs. In addition, the development of sea travel products is of great importance. It is vital to create a multi-layered product mix, promote independent travel of yacht and build brands of island tour.
Some local residents and tourists also express their high hope, saying that Huizhou should seize the rare development opportunity created by the development of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. Effort should be made to build a pro-tourism transportation network, so as to enhance the accessibility, convenience and comfort level for tourists during their stay in Huizhou. In addition, Huizhou should further improve its public services, including water, power supply, communication network and other infrastructure, and continue to perfect the tourism signage system.
■Extended reading: Huizhou opened its sea travel route to Hong Kong in the 1980s
Actually there was once a sea travel route between Huizhou and Hong Kong in the 1980s.
At the early stage of reform and opening up, the land transportation was rather inconvenient in Huizhou. It took at least 5 to 6 hours to reach Hong Kong through Luohu Port in Shenzhen, and the custom clearance could easily last to 2 hours at that time. Huiyang district seized this rare business opportunity and submitted a proposal to relevant government authorities, asking to open a direct sea travel route between Aotou Port and Hong Kong. As a result, this route, with a distance of 48 sea miles, was opened in 1982.
The passenger vessel, equipped with air conditioners, was an Australia-imported twin-wing luxury liner and operated one time each day, with a loading capacity of 200 passengers at a time. Hong Kong compatriots could take the ride at 9 am in Hong Kong and arrive at Aotou at 6 pm on the same day.
This sea travel route was extremely popular in the first two years; however, when the land transportation network was great improved, this sea travel routes gradually lost its appeal to commuters. In 1996, due to financial difficulty, this sea travel route ceased operation.
Coordinating reporter: LI Xiangying
Reporter: TAN Lin