41. Our economic restructuring
and the relocation of manufacturing processes and
back-office operations have brought tremendous
employment pressure to bear on the less-educated and
Coupled with a slackened construction industry
and rapid advances in technology, the unemployment rate
has remained relatively high.
Because of the nature of the tourism industry,
its demand for manpower is stronger.
Thanks to an improved external economy and rapid
development in the Mainland, there is still plenty of
room for growth in this sector.
A boost for the tourism industry can provide a
large number of low-skilled workers with job
opportunities and alleviate our unemployment problem.
We estimate that, during the period from 2000 to
2003 alone, tourism has created around 25 000 new
Government will continue to spare no effort to support
and facilitate the development of tourism.
Last year, our tourism
industry performed strongly, with visitor arrivals
reaching an all-time high of 21.81 million, an increase
of almost one third compared with 2002, the year before
the SARS outbreak. This
boom encouraged growth in tourism-related sectors such
as the catering, retail and hotel industries.
In 2004, under the Individual Visit Scheme, 4.26
million visits were made by Mainland visitors to
. As from
March last year, the scheme has been extended to the
and 11 additional major cities throughout the Mainland,
and this will further help stimulate our economy.
Meanwhile, visitor arrivals from our traditional
long-haul markets increased steadily at a rate of 8 per cent,
breaking the record set in 2002.
We expect 2005 to be an
even better year for the tourism industry.
Hong Kong Disneyland is scheduled to open in
September, an event which the market is eagerly
anticipating, and recruitment of 5 000 staff is
fully under way. By
the end of this year or early next year, a number of
other major tourism infrastructure projects will also be
completed, including the second phase of Symphony
of Lights? the Tung Chung Cable Car System, and
parallel, a number of new hotels will have opened by the
end of 2006, providing about 14 000 rooms and
employment for 7 500 staff.
The Government is also working on strengthening
the further development of our tourism industry, for
example, by encouraging ecotourism in the
, so that nature lovers may enjoy the natural beauty of
addition, we are studying the feasibility of developing
spa resort facilities, which will provide high-spending
visitors with more choices.
Apart from developing new
attractions, we must make the best use of our tourism
resources and enhance existing facilities.
Ever since its opening in 1977,
has been a favourite destination for local and overseas
visitors alike. Last
year, the number of people visiting the Park reached a
new record of more than 4 million.
The Park will continue to roll out programmes
combining entertainment with education on the themes of
懀he Ocean?and nimal Encounter?and will
present them in a fresh and creative manner in order to
give visitors a brand new experience.
has made new development proposals.
We will carefully consider the details of these
proposals, including their scope, the financial package,
complementary facilities, environmental implications and
Over the next two years, to
tie in with the completion of our new attractions, the
Hong Kong Tourism Board will launch a series of
strategic global publicity and promotion programmes.
The Board has identified families and business
and young executive travellers as the key target
segments for the next two years and will introduce brand
new tourism products to suit their needs, so as to
's many diverse attractions.
Another major strategy is to designate 2006 as
璌iscover Hong Kong Year?
Starting from the latter half of 2005 under a new
integrated theme, we will launch a wide variety of
promotional activities in the major markets around the
world through various media channels, to promote our new
facilities and new image extensively to the rest of the
world, in a bid to attract more visitors to
We will also extend the
Quality Tourism Services Scheme to cover more
tourism-related trades and further improve customer
services and the complaint-handling mechanism, in order
to enhance consumer protection.
By the end of last year, the number of accredited
shops had increased from some 2 000, when the
scheme was first launched, to over 5 000. This
reflects the success of the scheme and retailers' and
tourists' support for it.
To promote the tourism
industry further, I propose to earmark funding of $500
million to implement the foregoing measures, which are
expected to bring over 1.2 million additional
visitors in the next two years, as well as an increase
of nearly 2 million days in visitors' length of stay,
and additional economic benefits of nearly $10 billion.
The Hong Kong Tourism Board anticipates that, by
the end of 2006, the overall number of visitor arrivals
will exceed 27 million.
Tourism is an important sector
of our economy. It
's international profile and greatly benefits various
aspects of our economic and cultural development.
It also provides many job opportunities for the
less-educated and low-skilled workers.
The Government will continue to support projects
to improve tourism facilities and the work of the Hong
Kong Tourism Board in order to promote the industry
further and maintain our standing as
's preferred tourist destination.