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Hong Kong starts new campaign of tourism

Being one of the economic pillars in Hong Kong, tourism is a hot topic recently and a 4-day event of international tourism exhibition ending on Sunday…

Being one of the economic pillars in Hong Kong, tourism is a hot topic recently and a 4-day event of international tourism exhibition ending on Sunday set off a new wave of tourism promotion in Hong Kong.

Stephen Ip, Secretary for Economic Development and Labour, said at the opening ceremony that tourism industry in Hong Kong achieved spectacular growth in 2004 and the visitor arrivals reached a record high of 21.8 million. He expected the number will increase to 23.4 million this year with a tourist expenditure of about 97.8 billion Hong Kong dollars.

He said the World Tourism Organization named Hong Kong, for the first time, one of the top ten tourist destinations in 2004, a very encouraging sign for the industry. He expected the opening of Hong Kong Disneyland and other new attractions such as Asia`s largest wetland park will be the incentive to boost the industry.

The finance department of Hong Kong government suggests to allocate another 500 million Hong Kong dollars (some 63 million US dollars) from this year`s budget for the development of tourism, which pushes Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) plan to start a new round of tourism promotion.

According to the chief of HKTB, Selina Chow, the board will invest 470 million Hong Kong dollars to start its marketing program with the major event of 2006 Discover Hong Kong Year started in May.

Chow said, In the past few years we have working very, very hard to build additional infrastructure attractions and we are sure visitors will be able to decide for themselves how wonderful it is that we have added to all the other things.

She added Hong Kong tourism is entering a new era with its current development of attractions and infrastructures, such as Hong Kong Disneyland, the Wetlands, Asia-World Expo, the revitalized Peak Tower and Ngong Ping 360.

Among the products that will be highlighted in the promotion, Hong Kong Disneyland, which will open in September, has attracted much attentions. Travel agents in and out of Hong Kong have already arranged new itineraries with Disneyland being the main spot. It is expected that the theme park will bring in a revenue of 148 billion Hong Kong dollars within 40 years.

Green tourism in Hong Kong is another trend within the industry. The 64-hectare Hong Kong Wetland, located between Mai Po marshes and Tin Shui Wai New Town, will be a new attraction in the growing green tourism market. Selina Chow said it is important to make tourists aware that beyond the environment dominated by skyscrapers, Hong Kong also boasts of areas where nature thrives.

Traditional spots for tourists are refurbishing to meet new market demands. The Ocean Park in Hong Kong, which has a history of 28 years, said during the international travel exhibition that it will undergo a massive redevelopment to transform into the world`s best marine based theme park.

The work with a cost of 5.5 billion Hong Kong dollars is scheduled to commence in 2006 and be completed in 2010. The park hopes the redevelopment will make it one of the top theme parks in the world, a landmark destination and the pride of Hong Kong.

With the rapid growing economy, mainlanders are getting more affluent and many of them are interested to see the outside world. Being the nearest tourist destination, Hong Kong will have enough mainland tourists to fill its hotels, restaurants, shops and airline seats.

Besides, Hong Kong is getting hot in Asian, European and American markets. It is becoming a favorite for visitors from Philippine, Britain and US.

Chow said Hong Kong before was very much a shopping place in the mind of tourists and now the city will try its best to make it both a destination for families and business visitors.