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Hong Kong, South Australia sign koala deal


21:02, April 22, 2013

HONG KONG, April 22 (Xinhua) -- Hong Kong and South Australia signed a memorandum of understanding on Monday on tourism cooperation, under which eight koalas from the Australian state's Cleland Wildlife Park will be given to Hong Kong's Ocean Park.

Hong Kong Financial Secretary John Tsang and South Australia's visiting Premier Jay Weatherill witnessed the signing ceremony. Permanent Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development (Commerce, Industry & Tourism) Andrew Wong signed the agreement with South Australia's visiting Minister for Tourism, Recreation & Sport Leon Bignell.

The government of South Australia pledged the koala gift in 2011. Monday's signing of the MOU brought the delivery of the koalas to Ocean Park, due in 2014, another step closer.

"This generous gift signifies the friendship between Hong Kong and South Australia, and certainly helps forge closer links between us," Wong said.

Weatherill said the signing represented an opportunity to contribute to South Australia's goal of increasing the number of Chinese visitors to Australia's southern state.

"To house the koalas, Ocean Park is developing a 40-million-HK-dollar (5.1 million U.S. dollars) themed enclosure, which will highlight the natural wonders available to visitors to South Australia," he said.

Hong Kong's Ocean Park, ranked as one of the 10 most popular theme parks in the world by the U.S. Forbes Magazine, has previously unveiled its plans for the enclosure to ensure the koalas feel at home when they arrive.

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