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HKTB supports HK Governments measures to strengthen core industries

The Hong Kong Tourism Board has said it supports the proposals announced by The Hon Antony Leung, GBS, JP, Hong Kong`s…

The Hong Kong Tourism Board has said it supports the proposals announced by The Hon Antony Leung, GBS, JP, Hong Kong`s Financial Secretary, in his Budget Speech for 2003/04, in particular his assurance of the competitiveness of tourism as one of Hong Kong`s core industries.

Speaking to the Legislative Council, Mr Leung emphasised that the Government would continue to improve facilities at boundary crossings and construct new cross-boundary links. In addition, the Government would work together with the business sector in promoting tourism.

HKTB Chairman The Hon Mrs Selina Chow, GBS, OBE, JP, said the measures outlined in the budget were of utmost importance to the long-term development of the tourism industry. The confirmation of tourism-related projects by the HKSAR and Central Governments, together with further streamlining of visa application procedures for individual Guangdong travellers, will help attract even more visitors from the Mainland, she explained. I am sure this will create additional opportunities for us to promote business in the Mainland, which has become Hong Kong`s biggest source market.

According to 2001 surveys, 35% of Mainland visitors came from Guangdong province. The HKTB will maintain close liaison with the Guangdong authorities to tap into this market. It also plans to strengthen media promotion and provide individual Mainland travellers with comprehensive travel information so as to enhance the experience of their visit.

With regard to the promotion of quality services, the HKTB`s Quality Tourism Services (QTS) scheme has received very encouraging response since it was launched in 2000. Mrs Chow said that details of an enhancement programme and further expansion of the scheme would be announced in April.

The HKTB believes that the Government`s proposal to increase Air Passenger Departure Tax from the existing HK$80 to HK$120 will have little impact on travellers` desire to visit Hong Kong. As for the introduction of a new Boundary Facilities Improvement Tax, the impact on tourism industry will also be limited, as long as the amount is acceptable to visitors in general and the tax collection procedure is as simple as that of the Air Passenger Departure Tax.

The HKTB said it is concerned, however, with the Government`s intention to study the introduction of a Goods and Services Tax, as the trade has considerable reservations on the possible impact of such a measure on visitor spending.

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