What Happened: The Hong Kong-mainland China border has officially reopened. As of February 6 — for the first time in recent years — visitors between Hong Kong and China are now able to pass between the two regions without needing to observe COVID-19 entry restrictions.
These efforts take place as Hong Kong, formerly the world’s most visited city, looks to boost tourism and reinvigorate its economy after three years of sluggish growth, exacerbated by a lack of inbound travelers and a shrinking population due to waves of mass departures over the city’s strict COVID-19 protocols.
According to Hong Kong transportation company MTR Corp, Hong Kong and China’s Lo Wu border crossing point already received 22,000 travelers by noon on Monday.
The Jing Take: Hong Kong expects a resurgence in domestic tourism from mainland China — news that the city’s once-vibrant retail, hospitality and luxury sectors have long been awaiting.
From lockdowns to stringent COVID-19 entry requirements, Hong Kong has faced considerable headwinds since the start of the pandemic. Amid a looming recession and heightened U.S-China geopolitical tensions, the city hopes to see economic recovery via its retail and tourism sectors by wooing back mainland Chinese travelers into the region.
However, China’s shoppers’ behaviors and preferences for luxury and retail have shifted over the course of the pandemic, and experts believe places like Hong Kong will need to adapt to cater to their evolving needs.
From the rise of frugal yet self-rewarding Gen Z lifestyles, to a greater focus on self-care and hyperlocalization, China’s consumers are looking into increasingly diversified interests and lifestyles. Since the nation’s internal reopening and loosening of COVID-19 restrictions, retail has seen a rebound — though not to pre-pandemic levels, according to a report by CNBC. In cities such as Guangzhou, local businesses have reported a revenue rebound to as much as 50 percent of normal levels, according to the same report.
Across the Lunar New Year holiday, China saw 226 million domestic trips — a 74 percent increase year-on-year — after travel restrictions between provinces and regions were lifted, the highest since 2020.
As Hong Kong reopens, the city is engaging in a series of tourism and investment-inviting campaigns including its “Hello Hong Kong” promotions to better entice domestic and international travelers and businesses to return. Hoping to reclaim its status as one of Asia’s top financial and tourism hubs, the Hong Kong government has announced they will give away 500,000 free flights to inbound travelers.
The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.