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  Developing Tourism

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 low-skilled workers.  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 jobs in Hong Kong .  The Government will continue to spare no effort to support and facilitate the development of tourism.

42.    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 Hong Kong .  As from March last year, the scheme has been extended to the whole of Guangdong Province 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.

43.     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 Hong Kong Wetland Park .  In 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 Northern New Territories , so that nature lovers may enjoy the natural beauty of Hong Kong .  In addition, we are studying the feasibility of developing spa resort facilities, which will provide high-spending visitors with more choices.

44.     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, Ocean Park 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.  Ocean Park 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 resource requirements.

45.     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 showcase Hong Kong '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 Hong Kong in 2006.

46.     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.

47.     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.

48.     Tourism is an important sector of our economy.  It raises Hong Kong '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 Asia 's preferred tourist destination.



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Last revision date : 16 March, 2005