By FMCC Greater Bay Area (GBA) Tourism & Leisure Committee
The Greater Bay Area (GBA) Tourism & Leisure Committee of the France Macau Chamber of Commerce (FMCC), released a white paper last year, emphasising the significance of the GBA and fostering interest and collaboration in the region. The paper also highlighted Macau’s role as a driving force in international leisure and tourism. Over the past year, the committee has organised webinar and live-panel discussion to further delve into the GBA’s tourism, hospitality, and transport businesses. While the cities within the GBA share geographical proximity, they also share similarities in language, culture, and customs. However, despite these commonalities, each city possesses its own unique characteristics. This series of articles aims to explore the distinctive features of each city, showcasing their diverse experiences, notable destinations, culinary delights, and cultural uniqueness of what we are to discover from 2024.
Hong Kong, known as the “Fragrant Harbour,” is located on the southern coast of GBA and the heart of Asia, neighbouring Shenzhen, and is one of the SARs of China. This renowned financial hub has a mixed culture of East and West, being under British administration for a century, it has charmed the world to experience the multicultural city. The well-preserved Chinese heritage and culture, such as temples, festivals, opera, kung fu, British-style architecture, modern constructions, and theme Parks, all make Hong Kong so special. It is known for its skyscrapers, ferries, and tramcars, as well as its natural beauty and rural areas. It has a diverse and cosmopolitan shopping scene, with malls, markets, and boutiques catering to different tastes and budgets. Hong Kong is also famous for its dining, where one can enjoy a variety of local and international cuisines.
Macau, one of the special administrative regions of China. With its excellent location, comprising a small, narrow peninsula projecting from Guangdong province, Macau has been an important trading post on the Silk Road in the 16th century, especially since the first Portuguese ship anchored in the Pearl River estuary in 1513. After the long and diverse human history traditions and blending diverse cultural influences, Macau has become a city with a magnificent cityscape and infinite charm. It can be seen from collective historic landmarks that were designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2005, and a total of 70 items in Macao have been recorded on the Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage, with 12 items inscribed on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Macau has a unique festival culture, including traditional Chinese celebrations such as the Lunar New Year, Dragon Boat Festival, and Buddhist Festival, as well as important Western festivals such as Easter, , Procession of Our Lady of Fatima and Christmas. In addition, many large-scale international events take place in Macau.
Based on the above conditions, although the city is small, its diverse mix of experiences combining culinary, sporting events, arts festivals, creative activities, and gambling have been the most important components of Macau’s overall economy.
Guangzhou is the capital and largest city of Guangdong province in southern China, as well as the heart of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area. The city centre is located near the tip of the Pearl River Delta. Due to its location at the confluence of an inland river and sea, it has served as a gateway to foreign influence since the 3rd century and was the first Chinese port regularly visited by European traders. Nowadays, Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport has become one of the world’s busiest airports by passenger traffic. Inside the city, an extensive subway network has been well developed, with several lines running through the city and some heading towards Foshan, southwest of Guangzhou. Large shopping malls and wholesale markets were established in the downtown area, including department stores and specialty stores. Banks, including national, provincial, domestic, and foreign commercial establishments, now have branches throughout the city. Although the city does not have a stock exchange (like in Shenzhen and Hong Kong), it does have several brokerage firms.
With its picturesque beaches and natural attractions, Shenzhen is a coastal city neighbouring Hong Kong. It is a shining example of China’s reform and opening-up policy. Within 42 years, Shenzhen has transformed from a population of 30,000 to a bustling metropolis exceeding 17 million inhabitants. Today, the city stands at the forefront of high-tech development. The city is home to the fish-lantern dance of Shatoujiao, the traditional orthopaedic skills of the Guo family of Pingle, and more. There are 170 festivals in Shenzhen throughout the year that cater to tourists regionally. Shenzhen is accessible through land, sea, air, and rail ports, making it an excellent base from which to explore neighbouring Hong Kong and Macau. The airport serves as a major transport hub and ranks fourth in size in China.
Geographically, Zhuhai connects to Macau by land and adjacent to Zhongshan. It is positioned as a relaxation and leisure hub in GBA. Zhuhai is a beautiful city with a long shore line at the Pearl River Delta in Southeast China. Some of the most popular attractions include Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, a huge amusement park with animal displays, roller coasters and shows; Lovers’ Road, a scenic coastal road with landmarks such as the Fisher Girl statue and the Zhuhai Opera House; Wai Lingding Island, a tranquil island with natural beauty, clear waters and exotic stones; and the New Summer Palace, a replica of the original Summer Palace in Beijing, with imperial palace complex, western style buildings, and classical gardens.
The name Foshan means “Buddha Mountain”. Surrounded by spiritual mountains, rich Lingnan culture has been cultivated prosperously. For example, Foshan is considered the birthplace of Cantonese opera, a genre of Chinese opera; Nanquan, a martial art; and lion dance. The famous martial arts master Huang Feihong, Wing Chun master Ip Man (the mentor of film and television martial arts star Bruce Lee) are Foshan Natives.
Wong Fei Hung Memorial Hall is a museum commemorating Wong Fei Hong, one of the most famous Cantonese martial artists. It introduces the life story of Wong Fei Hong and comprehensively displays many literary and artistic works, as well as thousands of cultural relics related to Wong Fei Hong. This is a must-see attraction in Foshan for martial arts fans. Foshan is also the earthenware capital of southern China; Foshan has a ceramic history of about 700 years. Since ancient times, this place has had a good reputation: “Shiwan Tiles are the best in the world.” A dazzling array of earthenware will make your trip worthwhile in Foshan!
Huizhou, situated in the eastern region of Guangdong, is home to a population of 6 million people. The history of 2,000 years embodies Hui culture, encompassing Confucianism, clan culture, and mercantilism. The epitome of these values can be seen in Hui architecture that still graces existing Hui villages. Huizhou attracts visitors from neighbouring municipalities seeking a blend of urban areas, rich culture, breathtaking scenery, and a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Luofu Mountain has earned a prestigious 5A rating, while Huizhou’s lake are just as famous in China as Hangzhou and Yingzhou. Sizhou Pagoda, the oldest structure, was constructed in 1618 and is particularly enchanting when illuminated at night. Huizhou boasts a diverse folklore tradition and offers delectable dishes infused with Hakka culture and other centuries-old recipes. As a transportation hub in eastern Guangdong, Huizhou can be reached by rapid-railway, expressways and highways connecting within the GBA cities.
Dongguan is known for its importance as ‘the world’s factory’ as one of the “Four Little Tigers in Guangdong”, drawing businesses from around the globe, but in recent years it has also become a hotspot for leisure travellers seeking romantic sea views and scenic historical spots such as Ancient Nanshe and Tangwei Villages, Humen Fortress, and Keyuan Museum. Dongguan has a long history. Although it is at the forefront of reform, there are still many historical sites that have been preserved to this day. In one county, there are seven national key cultural relics protection units, which is rare in southern China.
Ancient Nanshe and Tangwei Villages are rated 4A as a national tourist attraction. The ancient architecture of Nanshe and Tangwei villages was first built during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), more than eight centuries ago. However, some of these buildings exhibit features of Lingnan architecture found during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Explore 94 state-protected historic buildings, 32 ancestral temples and more than 600 ancient villages, and discover China’s rich traditional history and culture from the buildings. The architecture is well preserved, including decorative monuments. Note also how the ancient village of Tangwei was built into the area’s mountainous terrain, fortified by a system of walls, watchtowers, and gates. Between the main gate and the large agricultural land outside the village is a row of ponds and wells arranged to form a giant crab, which in feng shui symbolizes the protection of all property.
Zhongshan is in the south-central part of the Pearl River Delta, connecting Guangzhou, and is close to Hong Kong and Macao. Zhongshan is famous for being the hometown of Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of modern China. There are many attractions in Zhongshan related to his life and legacy, such as his residence memorial museum, his memorial hall, and the West Sunwen Road pedestrian street. Zhongshan is a charming destination for visitors who want to learn more about modern Chinese history and enjoy the beauty of nature. The Shenzhen-Zhong Shan Bridge, a world-class sea channel project, is scheduled to be completed in 2024 which will connect cities in eastern and western GBA. It is convenient to get to Zhongshan, by speed-railway, expressways, and highways are the main transportation systems.
Jiangmen is known as the home of countless overseas Chinese around the world, whose descendants live in more than 100 countries around the world. The city also has cultural heritage sites such as Kaiping Diaolou and Village, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are more than 3,000 Diaolou (watchtowers) in the four prefectures of Xinhui County and Jiangmen City. Kaiping Diaolou and Villages were included in the World Culture List in 2007. Nearly 2,000 Diaolou towers stand in the middle of the field, blending perfectly with the splendid landscape. An astonishing fusion of Chinese and Western cultures, UNESCO experts describe it as “a complex and flamboyant fusion of Chinese and Western structural and decorative forms.”
Zhaoqing is the central-western part of Guangdong Province and the middle and lower reaches of the Xijiang River. Zhaoqing has the largest land area among the Mainland cities in the Greater Bay Area. It has several natural attractions for visitors. One of the most famous is the Seven Star Crags, a group of limestone peaks and caves surrounded by a lake. The crags are often referred to as the little Guilin due to their striking visual similarity to Guilin’s mountains. Another attraction is Dinghu Mountain, a nature reserve with rich biodiversity and waterfalls. Zhaoqing also has a historic city wall that dates back to the Song Dynasty and reflects the local culture.
During the 2023 October Golden Week, Guangdong received over 63 million visitors, Hong Kong over 1 million visitors, and Macau 932,365 visitors, respectively. A significant number of both citizens and residents of the GBA have already explored the major cities in the region through travel. However, there are continuous advancements taking place, and GBA Tourism & Leisure Committee of FMCC would like to extend an invitation for the readers to join the visits starting from next year, 2024. This invitation is for an all-encompassing tourism and leisure experience in every municipality and Special Administrative Region (SAR). During the visit, one will have the unique opportunity to witness, experience, and appreciate the distinctive characteristics that make each location stand out from the others. The discovery continues and future insights on the upcoming series of articles to be unveiled as the exploration unfolds.
Boilerplates (Committee and FMCC)
The FMCC Greater Bay Area (GBA) Tourism & Leisure Committee, led by Mary Mendoza (Platinum Marketing & Management Consulting) with committee members João Encarnação (MdME Lawyers), Teren Chong (BNU), and Vinzenz Rosa de Pauli (Sofitel Hotel) is a subcommittee of France Macau Chamber of Commerce (FMCC).
The FMCC GBA Tourism & Leisure Committee serves as a neutral platform, promoting cultural and commercial exchanges within the Greater Bay Area. We foster collaboration and development between public and private sectors through white papers, panel discussions, delegation visits, and more.