Hong Kong, a former British colony, and Macau, once ruled by Portugal, maintained their own currencies after China regained control in 1997 and 1999, respectively.

Gambling enclave Macau also appears to be outperforming in drawing Chinese visitors.

A separate Citi analysis released last week, citing figures from Macau tourism authorities, showed that visitor arrivals during the first four days of China’s annual Golden Week holiday rose 21.4 percent from the year before.

“It is encouraging to see that Mainland Chinese arrivals on each of the four days are higher than those of any day during the National Day Golden Week last year,” Anil Daswani, Citi’s head of global gaming research, said in the report.

Analysts, meanwhile, see room for further optimism as mega-infrastructure projects aimed at economically integrating the two special administrative regions with southern China, known as the Greater Bay Area, come on line.

The initiative is meant to foster economic integration among Hong Kong, Macau and nine cities in neighboring Guangdong province, including commercial and transport hubs Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

A high speed train that began operating last month and a bridge and tunnel system to open later in October are key components.

Nearly 70 million people live in the Greater Bay Area and combined GDP is estimated at $1.5 trillion — about the same as South Korea or Russia.

Citi’s Feng said that the plan “should further enhance the flow of people, along with the movement of goods and services, capital and information within the region.”

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