Since the handover from England to China in 1997, Hong Kong has has celebrated its National Day on October 1 every year.
The festival involves a variety of activities, including flag-hoisting ceremonies, parades and a variety of shows organized across 18 districts, and a fireworks display on Victoria Harbor to wrap up the day.
On September 19, Chief Executive John Lee announced various discounts and promotions, as well as resuming the National Day Fireworks after a five-year hiatus.
Some of the promotions include free rides on public transportation and the leisure facilities managed by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. Additionally, more than 60 cinemas will offer half-priced movie tickets. There will also be discounts provided at over 1,000 restaurants.
The National Day is also the start of the “Golden Week”, a 7 to 8-day holiday that combines the Mid-Autumn Festival and the National Day, during which a large number of Chinese people will go on a trip.
When asked about the government’s preparations for Golden Week, Lee stated that the government will organise additional human resources at cross-border facilities and the airport to handle the surge in traffic and that vendors will also prepare to host the tourists.
Additionally, Lee said he expects hundreds of thousands of locals and tourists to watch the the firework display along Victoria Harbor on Oct 1.
National Day Fireworks
The National Day fireworks display has been cancelled since 2018. It was cancelled in 2019 due to the anti-extradition protest and every year since 2020 due to the government’s anti-epidemic social distancing restrictions.
According to the government press release on Sept 15, the 23-minute long firework display involves 31,888 firing shells and will take place in the skies above Victoria Harbor at 9pm.
The show is co-ordinated by the Culture, Sports & Tourism Bureau and jointly sponsored by HKT and FWD Life Insurance Company.
The fireworks display will be divided into eight scenes, opening with red hearts bursting into the sky symbolising joy and unity. Another highlight of the display is the smiley faces and Bauhinia pattern fireworks, representing Hong Kong’s bright hopes for the future.
Susanna Hui, the Group Managing Director of HKT, said that the show resonates to the “Night Vibes Hong Kong’ campaign launched earlier this month, which aims to boost the night economy and revitalize the community, in order to reinforce Hong Kong’s position as an international events capital.
The display will be synchronized to music and shown on RTHK at 9 p.m. on October 1. It could also be seen from Tsim Sha Tsui, the Mid-Levels, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay, and the Hung Hom Bypass, according to the sponsors.
Tim Fung, a 22-year-old university student expressed his excitement towards the firework display. He said he enjoys the festive atmosphere during the fireworks display, but there is never enough space for spectators.
“I will definitely watch the show in Tsim Sha Tsui,” Tim said, “but I’m a bit worried that it would be very crowded there.” He believed that there will be a significant number of visitors by then, but he doubts the government will be fully prepared to handle the surge in the local population after five years.
This is the first National Day after China’s withdrawal of its rigorous zero-covid rules.
The Golden Week
This year, the Mid-Autumn Festival overlaps with the National Day vacation, resulting in a longer holiday and more travel opportunities.
According to Jin Junhao, deputy head of the Civil Aviation Administration’s transportation department, around 21 million passenger trips are projected to be performed by air throughout the vacation.
Among the trips, 14,000 domestic flights are planned daily, an increase of 18% from 2019, while daily passenger trips are predicted to increase by 17% from 2019.
China has also restarted passenger flights to almost 90% of the nations it served before the pandemic, he added.
Despite high expectations, some mainland tourists are visiting Hong Kong earlier to avoid the crowds during Golden Week.
“This year’s Golden Week doesn’t sound as appealing as it did a few years ago. I’ve gotten used to travelling around mainland China rather than going to Hong Kong,” said Wan Hong, a 46-year-old mainland visitor in Hong Kong for a medical check-up.
She claims that some shops in Hong Kong take advantage of their customers by demanding outrageous rates.
On 7 Sept, the Consumer Council published a press release to publicly criticize 4 pharmacies for their undesirable sales practices. The sales malpractices included intentionally misleading the consumers about the pricing unit and continuing business as usual despite complaints.
Meanwhile, the Travel Industry Council expects about 720 mainland tour groups to visit the SAR next week, which involves 30,000 tourists.
The authority said it has increased inspections of shops in tourist areas after the Consumer Council highlighted a few Chinese pharmacies in Causeway Bay for conning customers.
Featured image credit to Hong Kong Tourism Board