From Hong Kongers in the mainland to Sam Bankman-Fried's sentencing, here's your week's round-up

Tourists from Hong Kong are forecasted to spend as much as HK$84 billion (US$10.7 billion) in the Guangdong province this year.

From Hong Kongers in the mainland to Sam Bankman-Fried's sentencing, here's your week's round-up
Source: Pexels

❓What’s going on?

Ever since the mainland opened its borders last year post-pandemic, a new trend has emerged: Hong Kongers are leaving the city for the neighboring Middle Kingdom to “play,” leading to a stronger integration of the Greater Bay Area, or GBA. 

In fact, tourists from Hong Kong are forecasted to spend as much as HK$84 billion (US$10.7 billion) in the Guangdong province this year, according to senior economist at Natixis SA Gary Ng. This is close to 15% of the city’s revenue from hospitality, catering and retail combined.

🔢In fact, in line with this trend:

Hong Kong’s Octopus travel card is getting an upgrade. By the end of this month, a new physical card will be launched that can be used in 320 cities in mainland China. The card can be topped up with Hong Kong dollars, and it’ll be automatically charged with the equivalent renminbi for use in the mainland.

Over the Easter weekend, an additional 200 train trips will be added between the Hong Kong West Kowloon Station and Shenzhen’s Futian Station. “We have worked closely with mainland authorities and agreed to enhance services between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, particularly during the Easter holiday," said an MTR spokesperson. 

🤔Why is this happening, though?

While the specific numbers vary, it’s mainly because it’s just so much cheaper next door. 

“For four hundred dollars, we could live at a four-star hotel in China, but here, we could only live at a hostel,” said Zhang Ziyue, a tourist from the mainland in Hong Kong, highlighting the drastic cost of living difference between Hong Kong and the mainland. 

🗣️What people are saying:

“Many operators are keenly aware that many HK people are traveling to Shenzhen every week and that the people coming from the mainland are different than pre-pandemic. Many can see more money going out than coming in. Naturally this presents a risk to them. However, I am constantly amazed at the number of people who have not been over to Shenzhen recently to have a look for themselves. 

From Admiralty, you can be sitting down to dinner in just over an hour. Yes, there is risk, there is also opportunity. There are 20 million people in short distance from the HK border versus 7 million on this side of the border. I also see operators going across for expansion opportunities or as a way to understand how to target those who are coming across on a very different social media landscape.”

– Liam Collette, Director of Eastern Path Limited, an F&B consulting firm that works with the likes of Doughbros in a comment.

“Hong Kong-based companies are adopting a GBA strategy to stay relevant as consumer behaviour evolves. Hong Kong local retailers and landlords who suffer from reduced foot traffic in Hong Kong would find good remediation from their GBA presence. Those with a portfolio of outlets in Hong Kong and China will continue to do well.” 

– Eric Lin, Head of Greater China Research, UBS Investment Bank to TMS, adding that the bank also forecasts China to contribute around 20% of revenue by 2025 to MSCI Hong Kong businesses. 

”Eighty-six million people, all within one and a half hours by high-speed rail, which is nothing. In 2024, [the Greater Bay Area] had a GDP of US$1.9 trillion."

Allan Zeman in an interview.

Read the full story here.

Some of the biggest Headlines this week

🚇HK MTR fare hikes: Hong Kong’s MTR fares are set to increase by about 3% this June. They could’ve gone up by around 5%, but an affordability cap has come into play this year, balancing the public affordability of the hike with the company’s needs to maintain, upgrade and renew the railway system. 

☀️HK temp rises: Hong Kong has seen some of the hottest days in March since records began in 1884, with the Hong Kong Observatory measuring a peak temperature of 31.5 C (88.7 F) on Sunday. 

🫤HK family happiness drops: A new study, based on a survey asking people to rate how happy their family is on a scale of 0-10, showed that family happiness levels in Hong Kong have dropped for the third year in a row to 6.43. The researchers found that one factor could be many Hong Kongers emigrating to other countries, leaving the elderly without the support they need. 

🤝President Xi and US delegation meet: Relations between the US and China are still at a low level, but some gradual improvements have been seen. On Wednesday, top American business leaders like Blackstone founder Stephen Schwarzman and execs from companies like Pfizer and FedEx met with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Reps from the National Committee on United States-China Relations were also present. Xi stressed mutually beneficial economic ties between the US and China, promising more policy support to improve the business landscape. 

🛳️Baltimore bridge crash: Early on Tuesday, a cargo ship, the Dali, knocked down a highway bridge into Baltimore Harbor after losing power. Although the Maryland Transportation Authority was able to stop traffic from going across the bridge, at least six road crew working on the bridge are presumed to be dead after falling into the waters when it collapsed. Two of the bodies have been recovered so far. 

🏳️‍🌈Thailand moves to legalize same-sex marriage: Thailand is on the way to becoming the first country in Southeast Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, with its parliament approving an equality bill on Wednesday. The bill will now go to the Senate for approval and must be endorsed by the Thai king, which is looking likely. If passed, it’ll become a law after 60 days. 

👩‍⚖️UN Security Council and Gaza: After weeks of being vetoed by the US, the UN Security Council has called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza for the remainder of Ramadan (until April 9), and demanded an immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. 

✈️Boeing CEO is done: Boeing has seen a lot of troubles in recent years, with several incidents this year piling onto its struggling reputation. On Monday, CEO Dave Calhoun announced he would resign at the end of the year, and the company will now begin searching for a replacement to turn Boeing around. The airplane manufacturer also announced that it’ll be replacing its board chair, Larry Kellner, and the chief executive of its commercial airplanes unit, Stan Dean. 

🧑‍⚖️Sam Bankman-Fried sentencing: Late last year, Sam Bankman-Fried was found guilty of defrauding billions of dollars from customers of his crypto exchange platform FTX. On Thursday, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison for stealing billions of dollars from customers. This sentence was shorter than the 40 to 50 years that federal prosecutors had sought but higher than the five to six and a half years that his lawyers had requested.

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Written and put together by Christine Dulion, Alisha Khan, Elize Lanorias and Krystal Lai.