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Hong Kong welcomes relaxation of CDC travel advisory to Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) has said it is encouraged by the news that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has downgraded its traveller notification for Hong Kong…

The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) has said it is encouraged by the news that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has downgraded its traveller notification for Hong Kong from a travel advisory to a travel alert.

HKTB Chairman The Hon Mrs Selina Chow, GBS, OBE, JP, said that since the lifting of the travel advisory by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 23 May, a number of countries in major markets including Southeast Asia, Europe and Australia had lifted their own travel warnings. The downgrading of the CDC`s travel advisory not only affirms Hong Kong`s ability to contain the virus, but also helps rebuild American consumers` confidence in visiting Hong Kong, paving the way for the HKTB`s comeback campaign in this market, she commented.

An official CDC statement said there is no evidence of ongoing community transmission. The date of onset of symptoms of the last reported case without a known source of exposure occurred on April 30, 2003. More than 20 days, or two SARS incubation periods, have elapsed since that date.

Cathay Pacific Airways` Senior Vice President, Americas Tom Wright said: We are very encouraged by the CDC`s decision as it represents another stamp of confidence in Hong Kong controlling SARS. The lifting of the advice against `non-essential travel` will help to increase business travel, particularly between the US and Hong Kong. We are also hopeful tourists may be persuaded by this news as well.

Wright continued: Rebuilding Hong Kong`s travel industry will happen step by step and as Hong Kong`s carrier, Cathay Pacific is working with the industry and is giving its full support to Government initiatives to draw travelers back to Hong Kong.

Deputy Director of the China National Tourism Office in Sydney, George Xiong, said the lifting of warnings on Hong Kong and Guangdong were reason to be optimistic that conditions allowing for visits by international tourists were returning to normal in many parts of China.

It is fair to say that many areas within China have either successfully contained the SARS virus or were never affected in a significant way by the epidemic, Mr Xiong said.

While efforts to fully contain SARS in China continue, the latest developments augur well for Australians to resume travelling to parts of mainland China soon, he said.

The HKTB`s offices in the United States and Canada will be inviting media representatives to Hong Kong to see for themselves that Hong Kong has retained its momentum and energy. A number of Video News Releases (VNRs) have been sent to global markets, with a special North American version distributed to media by satellite on 4th June. The VNR captured celebrations of the Dragon Boat Festival and included interviews with the Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce as well as Americans residing in Hong Kong, showing that everyday life in the city and all its unique attractions remain unchanged.

The HKTB is also working closely with the Hong Kong Government`s economic and trade offices and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council`s offices in North America, with the aim of attracting business visitors back through strengthened marketing promotions targeting this segment.

The HKTB is discussing joint marketing initiatives with the tourism bureaux of Guangdong Province and Macau. With the downgrading of the CDC`s travel advisory providing extra momentum for co-operation, the three destinations will work more closely in developing complementary travel programmes and in encouraging trade partners to provide even more attractive products and multi-destination itineraries, so as to renew the interest of travellers worldwide in visiting the three destinations.

We hope that Hong Kong`s name can also be deleted soon from the WHO`s list of SARS-infected areas, so that visitors` confidence can be fully restored, Mrs Chow added. We will continue to monitor closely North American consumers` receptiveness to travel in Asia and fine tune our comeback campaign accordingly.,/I>

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Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales. She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.