Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Sunday, June 15, 2003

HK's Tourism Industry on Road Back to Normal

Around 300 visitors from Guangzhou in Chinese mainland were given a rousing welcome by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) Saturday in Hong Kong, another signthat Hong Kong's tourism industry is on the road back to normal.


Around 300 visitors from Guangzhou in Chinese mainland were given a rousing welcome by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) Saturday in Hong Kong, another signthat Hong Kong's tourism industry is on the road back to normal.

The group is the largest Hong Kong tour group coming from China's mainland since the World Health Organization (WHO) lifted its travel advisory to Hong Kong on May 23.

HKTB Executive Director Clara Chong presented to those visitors, at the Golden Bauhinia Square, a Hong Kong shopping bag made of recycled materials, as a gesture of welcome.

Chong said that confidence was beginning to revive in the markets as the SARS outbreak faded out and Hong Kong's well known energy and vibrancy made a swift return.

"We have already seen indications of recovery in the short-haulmarkets, with a particularly strong demand from Guangdong Province," she said. "In fact, all the tourism attributes of Hong Kong remain unchanged after the outbreak. Visitors are able to enjoy a great selection of dining, unlimited shopping options and exciting heritage experiences and events, as well as a unique blend of city, harbor and green attractions."

Chong added that visitors would see for themselves that Hong Kong had become even safer, cleaner and healthier than ever before.

On June 1, Hong Kong welcomed over 1,000 Guangdong tourists, the first batch of Guangdong visitors since the WHO issued the travel advisory to Hong Kong on April 2, when travel agencies in the Chinese mainland and overseas suspended tour services to Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong tourism industry estimated that about 100,000 Guangdong people are expected to visit Hong Kong in June and the tourism industry would fully resume normal business in October.

Besides visitors from the mainland, overseas tourists are also resuming their visits to Hong Kong.

At the invitation of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, Sam Kwan, vice president of the Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association, recently visited Hong Kong. About 70 other Malaysian travel agent operators, members of the Malaysian press and tourists joined him in the trip.

"We recently started advertising for tours to Hong Kong on newspapers, and there have been good responses. That means Malaysian people have regained confidence in traveling to Hong Kong," Kwan noted.

With a view to revitalizing Hong Kong's tourism industry, which has been hit hard by the SARS outbreak, rebuilding visitors' confidence in Hong Kong as a business and leisure destination is of vital importance.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board will launch a series of publicity activities for at least six months to promote Hong Kong's tourism around the world, thanks to a 400 million HK dollar (51.2 million US dollar) fund approved by the Legislative Council.

Advertisements have been placed in major newspapers throughout Asia, Europe, Australia and, most recently, the United States to highlight the removal of the travel advisories.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa earlier urged all members of the community to help spread the news that Hong Kong issafe to visit by sending special "Hello from Hong Kong" postcards and e-cards to their family, friends and business contacts around the world.

With the influx of visitors to Hong Kong and the betterment of SARS situation in Hong Kong, measures against SARS, however, have not been slackened. Temperature checks for all passengers at the airport, ports and border points are continued to watch for travelers displaying symptoms of SARS. In addition, all incoming travelers are required to complete a health declaration.

No new confirmed case of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) was reported here in Hong Kong Saturday, marking the third consecutive day of zero infection and the 30th day in a row on which the number of cases has fallen below five since May 16 in Hong Kong.

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