NANNING, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) -- For Chan Ka-ling, commuting between Hong Kong and Guilin, in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, has become so much easier thanks to high-speed trains between the Chinese mainland and Hong kong.
"In the past, it took at least six hours because I had to transfer in Shenzhen or Guangzhou, but thanks to high-speed trains, it has become so much easier," said Chan, a Hong Kong businessman working in Guilin. He travels between the two cities every week.
The entire Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link line was put into official operation in September and travel between the cities only takes three hours and 19 minutes.
Guilin is known for its picturesque karst mountains and beautiful rivers. With high-speed trains linking Hong Kong and the mainland, Guilin and its neighboring cities have become a big attraction for visitors from Hong Kong and Macao.
In October, Guilin received 54,500 tourists from Hong Kong and Macao, up 39 percent year on year.
Before 2014, only one rail route passed through Guilin. The trains were slow, putting off many potential visitors.
In 2014, the Guiyang-Guangzhou High-speed Railway connecting Guiyang, capital of southwest China's Guizhou Province, and Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province, went into operation, making travel times shorter.
"We have traveled to Guangxi many, many times," said Huang Enping, a tourist from Guangdong. "The trains are always full of people."
The Guiyang-Guangzhou High-speed Railway connects many of Guangxi's tourism cities like Hezhou, Guilin and Sanjiang. The short travel time has contributed to a tourism boom in Guangxi, with many choosing to visit on weekends.
According to local authorities in Guilin, there are currently nine stations for high-speed trains, with more than 200 trains making stops each day. The trains connect Guilin with many cities across the country.
The trains have boosted local tourism. According to Guilin's transport authorities, in 2014 Guilin saw 38.7 million tourists for the whole year. This year, the city received close to 80 million visitors in the first three quarters.
Close to the high-speed railway stations in Guilin, the number of shopping centers and restaurants has shot up.
"High-speed trains are just like a huge magnet," said Tang Ling, a professor with Guangxi Normal University. "Guilin is hot again, bringing many opportunities for people who used to live deep in the mountains."
Guangxi is home to multiple ethnic groups, and the high-speed trains have brought many visitors to their villages tucked away in the mountains.
"Every Friday, we have to prepare traditional ethnic banquets to entertain the guests, and we also put on many ethnic shows," said Wu Wanting, a resident in Sanjiang Dong Autonomous County.
Wu used to make money by farming and working in cities, but now high-speed trains have brought tourists to her hometown. Wu has not only escaped poverty, but now also can stay at home to take care of her kids.
"I can make more than 60,000 yuan (8.646 U.S. dollars) a year nowadays," she said.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of Guangxi's founding as an autonomous region. In 1958, Guangxi had just three railways, spanning 1,346 km, connecting with neighboring provinces. Sixty years later, the railway route length has expanded to 5,191 km, including 1,771 km for high-speed trains.
In Guilin, a "high-speed railway economic belt experimental area of cooperation for Guangdong, Guangxi and Guizhou" has been established. The area is being developed and is expected to become an economic hub worth 10 billion yuan.
"Guangxi is China's first ethnic autonomous region to have high-speed trains, which has put the region's development on fast track," said Kang Wei, with the Nanning branch of China Railway.
Kang said that two more railways are being built in Guangxi and are expected to facilitate international trade.