Following the inauguration of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, Tung Chung, a calm village on the northwestern coast of Lantau Island, was jolted by the presence of thousands of mainlanders who swooped down on its restaurants and shops over the weekend.
Most of them were part of tour groups who arrived via the mega bridge and used the downtown area of the village as their drop-off point.
One local paper screams “Tung Chung has fallen!” to describe the pandemonium created by the surge of tourists.
The epicenter of the activity was Citygate, the commercial complex at the heart of Tung Chung.
Long queues were seen at Starbucks and Café de Coral in a shopping mall where dining outlets are not even enough for Tung Chung residents, and of course at pharmacy shops where stocks of infant formula were wiped out.
Ngong Ping 360 was also thriving with business; one had to wait two hours to get a ride on the cable cars.
Local residents found the sudden arrival of the mainland tourists quite overwhelming. Not only were local buses filled up, but they also complained about the entire place becoming noisy and messy. It’s a good thing tempers didn’t flare and no untoward incident was reported.
We hope the situation wouldn’t deteriorate to a point where there would be anti-mainlander protests as happened at New Town Plaza in Sha Tin about three years ago.
A similar “invasion” of cross-border tourists was seen during the recent Golden Week holidays at the Elements in Tsim Sha Tsui, following the inauguration of the high-speed Express Rail Link.
While the tide of mainland tourists using the high-speed rail seems to have normalized, the swelling of crowds at Citygate has just begun. Over 90,000 people crossed the border via the mega bridge on Sunday, including close to 50,000 from the mainland, according to government data.
Nearly 200 buses were used for cross-border transport on Sunday, on top of the one-day tours that start from 269 yuan (US$38.95).
Will the heavy presence of mainland tourists be the new normal for residents of Tung Chung? “We hope not,” they said. Otherwise, they may be forced to also queue up for buses to Zhuhai for a quiet weekend getaway.
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