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Friday, February 26, 2016, 18:26

HK's tourism sector poised for HK$240m makeover

By Emma Dai

HK's tourism sector poised for HK$240m makeover
Tourists are seen next to a statue near the Po Lin Monastery on the outlying island of Lantau in Hong Kong on June 9, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez)

The Hong Kong government will pump HK$240 million into boosting the tourism sector and polishing the city’s image, left somewhat tarnished by the Lunar New Year riot in Mong Kok.

Gregory So Kam-leung, secretary for commerce and economic development, said on Friday that the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau will spend HK$240 million in the next financial year to promote Hong Kong as a tourism destination. The emphasis will be on sharpening the SAR’s image as a top destination for cultural and creative experiences, as well as mega events, in order to absorb more high-spending overnight visitors.

This comes two days after Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah in his 2016-17 budget speech announced HK$240 million would be spent on rebuilding the city’s tourism image and subsidizing small and medium-sized travel agents.

So said HK$84.3 million have been set aside to rebuild Hong Kong’s image — including branding the SAR as a high-quality and trusted tourism destination, and on making a new promotion video, after the Mong Kok riot of Feb 9, when the city was celebrating the Lunar New Year.

"Those (negative) images (of the rioters) will make people in other places wonder whether Hong Kong has changed. We need to present the best and positive side of Hong Kong with all the other promotions. And it’s very important to do it in a timely manner,” So said.

He added that in order to diversify visitor sources, the tourism campaign will spent 74 percent of its budget on foreign markets, mainly Southeast Asian countries, a traditional stronghold, as well as Northeast Asia. As for the resources allocated to the Chinese mainland, 90 percent of that will be spent in markets outside Guangdong province.

Separately, HK$10 million will be used to promote the existing cultural and historical attractions — including HK$8 million on revitalization of the Sun Yat-sen Historical Trail on Hong Kong Island. Another HK$52 million have been earmarked for the expansion of mega events such as the Wine and Dine Festival and Rugby Sevens, and create new contents around them.

To support the tourism industry, HK$72.4 million have been earmarked for various funds and initiatives, including financing small and mid-size agents to hold more exhibitions in the SAR.

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