Aerial photo taken on July 11, 2018 shows the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. (Xinhua/Liang Xu)
by Hu Yao, Wang Chenxi
MACAO, March 21 (Xinhua) -- A white yacht departed from Shenwan Yacht Dock in Zhongshan, a city of China's southern Guangdong province, and sailed along the West River, a tributary of Pearl River, for about one hour into Port Coloane of China's Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR).
This is a sightseeing trip between Macao SAR and Zhongshan under the Individual Yacht Visit Scheme. The scheme, which was officially launched two years ago, started the individual tourism cooperation between Guangdong province and Macao SAR.
Unlike the yacht sightseeing in the niche tourism market, the tourism cooperation of mass market among Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area has been mature for a long time. The ferry routes between the bay area regions and newly built Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge weave a network of tourism and leisure life in the region.
In February 2019, Chinese authorities unveiled the outline development plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, aiming to develop the city cluster into a quality living circle for living, working, health care and traveling. The current living standard and economy development in the Greater Bay Area have laid a solid ground for achieving such a goal.
Covering an area of 56,000 square km, the bay area had a combined population of about 70 million at the end of 2017 and its Gross Domestic Product per capita reached more than 20,000 U.S. dollars in 2017.
Cao Zhongxiong, the director of the New Economy Research Center with China Development Institute, said as the vast group of consumers in the area has higher levels of incomes, which forms the social needs for quality leisure and health care services in the bay area.
According to the outline development plan, to build a Greater Bay Area for leisure, the area should promote the development of tourism by taking its geographic advantages as well as Hong Kong's role as the international shipping center.
Meanwhile, it can develop a variety of tourist products, such as tourism for culture, history, leisure and health, and explore more transportation vehicles such as cruise lines, yachts and high-speed railways, so that the area can be built into a world-class destination for tourists.
Genting Cruise Lines has its home ports in Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. One of its cruise line trip brings the tourists from Nanshan of Guangzhou or Hong Kong to enjoy the food and entertainment services on the cruise line for one day, while the tourists can catch a glimpse of the great view along the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge.
Zhu Fuming, president of the Genting Cruise Lines, said as the Greater Bay Area has favorable geographic advantages and vast population, with higher economic development level and spending capacity, there is huge potential for developing cruise line business in the region.
Macao is renowned for its tourism, which witnessed tourists arrivals of more than 35.8 million in 2018. The outline development plan has set the goal of building Macao into a world leisure center, and a base of exchanges and cooperation of diverse cultures dominated by Chinese culture.
However, as the Greater Bay Area has three customs jurisdictions, three currencies and three legal regimes, it still needs in-depth coordination between the three places to break the barriers made by different policy and legal regimes.
Zheng Weihang, vice-director of China Cruise and Yacht Industry Association, said the Greater Bay Area has cluster advantages in manufacture industry, which can integrate the industrial chain in Zhuhai, Foshan, Zhongshan, Huizhou and Dongguan with the science and technology research capacity in Hong Kong, Macao, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, and could become a base for manufacture and maintenance of cruises and yachts.
According to the outline development plan, to build a Greater Bay Area for a healthy life, the region should promote cooperation on traditional Chinese medicine between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao.
Therefore, the central government supports the construction of State Key Laboratory of Quality Research in Chinese Medicines in Macao and an examination center for traditional Chinese medicine in Hong Kong, and their cooperation with related institutes in the Chinese mainland, to make quality standards for traditional Chinese medicine.
The central government also supports the construction of a service platform for traditional Chinese medicine's overseas registration by Guangdong-Macao Traditional Chinese Medicine Science and Technology Industrial Park, which is based in Zhuhai, to promote the health care industry and development of traditional Chinese medicine in the world.
The health care cooperation of the bay area has started a few days after the issue of the outline development plan. The Health Commission of Guangdong Province, the Food and Health Bureau of Hong Kong SAR government and the Health Bureau of Macao SAR government jointly signed the Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area Health Protocol and initiated 62 cooperation projects.
The protocol covers six parts, including cooperation in the high-quality medical resource, public health emergency, innovation in traditional Chinese medicine, research and development, and personnel education and training.
The medical and health care cooperation between Guangdong and Macao has set up an example for the Greater Bay Area. In 2011, Guangdong-Macao Traditional Chinese Medicine Science and Technology Industrial Park was officially launched in Zhuhai's Hengqin District, a development zone jointly established by governments of both sides.
The industrial park has expanded to 300,000 square meters and hosted over 100 pharmaceutical and health care enterprises.
Irene Wong King, a Hong Kong businesswoman, has set up a traditional Chinese medicine enterprise in Macao for years. After the launching of the industrial park, she moved her Macao Unipharm Group into the park and expanded the business to the mainland market.
"Hong Kong and Macao both have signed Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) with the mainland, my company's raw materials and final products enjoy zero tariff, plus many supporting facilities and policies provided by the industrial park," she said.
The outline development plan also supports the cooperation between Macao and Zhuhai to build multifunctional projects in Hengqin District for Macao people to enjoy services up to Macao standards, such as education, medical care and elderly care.
Macao legislator Wong Kit Cheng commented that the medical and social care systems in Macao and the mainland both have their advantages. The Greater Bay Area could set up a certain mechanism of alliance to merge their systems to cover the whole region, and promote the medical and social care service for the people in the region.
(Xinhua reporters Guo Xin in Macao, Zhu Yuxuan in Hong Kong and Yin Peng in Shenzhen also contributed to the story.)