Officials in Macau are reportedly partnering with their counterparts from neighboring Hengqin Island in order to lobby Beijing for the right to introduce a visa-free regime for foreign tourists wishing to travel between the two areas.
According to a report from GGRAsia citing ‘several Chinese-language media outlets,’ Hengqin Island is part of China’s Guangdong Province but is located just across the Shisanmen Waterway from the over 30 casinos in Macau. Last month purportedly saw federal legislators approve a plan that could see the 37 square mile island transformed into a tourist-friendly zone complete with a range of non-gaming leisure and entertainment facilities by as early as 2035.
In order to facilitate this development, Hengqin Island is reportedly hoping to be given permission to implement a visa-free transit scheme similar to that already in existence across numerous Chinese cities including the nearby metropolis of Guangzhou, which is the principal population center for Guangdong Province. GGRAsia detailed that such a regime would enable the holders of certain foreign passports to travel between the two jurisdictions for periods of up to 72 hours without the need for a visa.
Wong Fai, President for the Macau Leisure Tourism Services Innovation Association, mentioned that his group visited several of Hengqin Island’s non-gaming tourism developments such as the Chimelong Paradise theme park yesterday where he had met with the Director for the government’s Hengqin New Area Administrative Committee, Yang Chuan, as well as representatives from Beijing’s local liaison office.
“It is a goal for both Macau and Hengqin Island to attract more international visitors. We are actually proposing whether some arrangement like 72-hour visa-free transit can be done for those international visitors that wish to travel to Hengqin. In that way, it gives the visitors more flexibility in planning their trips in Macau and Hengqin Island.”
Wong declared that he would also like to see Macau-based tourist coaches given permission to travel freely across Hengqin Island. He purportedly proclaimed that such a scheme would aid the recently-ratified development plan by building on a current system agreed by the governments of Macau and Zhuhai that has implemented a quota for such privately-licensed vehicles wishing to enter the neighboring island.