by Stanley Ho | October 04, 2019
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Zhuhai city government is banking on an expected increase in business travel in the Greater Bay Area.

ZHUHAI - While Macau is making waves as a MICE destination with various facility openings and re-development, its neighbouring city of Zhuhai is also keen to muscle in for a piece of the action.

The southern Chinese city announced a tender process last week for what will be one of the largest hotel and exhibition centres near the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HZMB) as it banks on an expected increase in business travel in the Greater Bay Area, reported the South China Morning Post.

The Greater Bay Area refers to a plan by the Chinese central government to link the cities of Hong Kong, Macau, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Zhongshan, Dongguan, Huizhou, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing into an integrated economic and business hub.

Zhuhai's city government announced that the tender for the 226,000sqm plot of land to the north of Zhuhai port will open on Oct 9, and will be auctioned off on Oct 18. The starting price of the plot is at US$793 million.

The plot of land is the largest allocated for hotels and exhibition purposes in Zhuhai in recent years, following the establishment of the Greater Bay Area, said Vincent Cheung, managing director of Vincorn Consulting and Appraisal.

"If the parcel of land is sold, it will set a benchmark for the property market, as well as a benchmark for land (earmarked) for tourism in the Greater Bay Area as a whole. But this will depend on the level of response to the tender," Mr Cheung was quoted as saying in the South China Morning Post.

He said the plot is costly because of its proximity to other developments in the Greater Bay Area, and that the Zhuhai government was betting on an increase in the number of business travellers in the region.

"Zhuhai wants to become a leader in tourism in the Greater Bay Area," he said. "Zhuhai was already in the business tourism industry long before Macau showed up.

"But the rise of Macau's casinos has led to a decline in customers coming to Zhuhai. Now that Macau's hotels are becoming more expensive, many tourists will want to choose Zhuhai instead."

To stand a chance of winning the bid, the bidder has to fulfil more than 10 conditions. One includes signing a letter of intent with at least one global hotel brand identified by the government.

The bidder must also bring in at least 20 foreign companies within three years, and build at least two hotel projects within a designated 160,000sqm area.