A walk down memory lane in the historic Hong Kong border town boosts the area's economy, says John Lee as he flags off a new eco-tourism ferry route.

About 34,000 people from 860 tourist groups made the historic visit Hong Kong The border town of Shah Tao Kok has been partially reopened 18 months ago as part of an eco-tourism drive, the city's chief said on Saturday.

Chief executive John Lee Ka-chiu said the influx of visitors to Shah Tau Kok, mostly outsiders, had boosted the area's economy since the 1950s as part of a colonial-era effort to combat illegal immigration.

„I am very pleased to see that many residents in the district have welcomed this project, which has given vitality to Shah Tau Kok, boosted the local economy and raised the level of happiness of its residents,” Lee said. Opening of the city.

„This proves that the history, culture and scenery of Shah Tau Kok are unique, attractive and valued by tourists.”

City Mayor John Lee opens the second phase of the historic city to tourists, accompanied by a stall holder at Shah Tao Kok Market. Photo: Dixon Lee

Since earlier this year up to 1,000 people a day can apply for a permit in the closed area – except for the still restricted Chung Ying Street – with 700 spaces reserved for tour groups and 300 for individuals.

Lee, along with Defense Secretary Chris Tang Ping-kyung, visited the dried seafood street at Shah Tao Kok Market on Saturday to speak to stallholders, who said they welcomed the increased attendance.

He said Shah Tau Kok's proximity to Robin's Nest and Double Haven in the northeastern New Territories made it a strategic ecotourism destination.

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Lee hinted at a new outer islands ferry route from the city that would take visitors to geoparks in the area, but did not give details.

„Sha Tao Kok borders Yantian District, providing opportunities for cultural and tourism cooperation between Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Shenzhen,” he added.

Lee also visited the old Sha Tau Kok fire station, which remains unchanged, and unveiled a century-old fire truck.

Overlooking the historic Chung Ying Street, an observation deck at Chung Ying Street Garden is the latest attraction in the border town.

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The street, which is not open to visitors, is a place where Shenzhen and city officials share jurisdiction, and residents of both places can shop and visit.

The garden has a full-scale replica of an old steam locomotive in an environment designed to look like the old Shah Tau Kok railway station.

Other nearby attractions include the Cape of Sha Tau Kok in the eastern corner, which overlooks the sea and neighboring Shenzhen, as well as the city's longest Sha Tau Kok Pier, which stretches 280 meters (917 ft) out to sea.

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