The optical emission properties of mass-transport regions of GaN grown by hydride vapor phase epitaxy are studied by cathodoluminescence imaging and spectroscopy. A strong donor-acceptor pair emission is observed from the mass-transport regions. Spatially resolved cathodoluminescence reveals a strong intensity contrast between the exciton and donor-acceptor bands from mass-transport and nontransport regions. Focused Auger electron and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopies were employed to investigate the impurity incorporation in the different regions. A preferential moderate increase of residual impurity incorporation or redistribution in mass-transport regions is suggested to be responsible for the observed change of the dominant radiative mechanism.