Fun trends, good value as top tourist pitches

Top News | Staff reporter Jun 19, 2017
Trendy and value-for-money is the way to go for Hong Kong tourism, outgoing Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So Kam-leung says.

So, who oversees tourism, communications and creative industries, will step down on June 30 after nine years on the job.

He told Sing Tao Daily, sister newspaper of The Standard, that the SAR can no longer rely on shopping or Ocean Park and Hong Kong Disneyland to draw visitors.

Hong Kong's future position should be as a place of great fun, as well as value-for-money, So said.

"Tourists would love a taste of Hong Kong's pace, trends or culture," he said.

Hong Kong is the center of hottest trends, where visitors can appreciate latest designs and creativity, he said.

And others may be attracted to the local culture - manifested in both traditional and Western historical buildings - as well as the vast country parks.

The government has been looking at adding new theme parks or tourists attractions, but it is not the time yet to reveal the plans, So said.

Mega events will also play a part in attracting tourists. "Hong Kong Sevens is a big success, and we may consider hosting American football matches," he noted.

In the first four months of the year, overall visitor arrivals rose 3.2 percent year-on-year to 19 million. The mainland accounted for 14.3 million visitors, up 3.3 percent.

Asked if he would support adding more cities to the Individual Visit Scheme, So said that hinges on whether there is public support to do so.

The scheme currently allows residents of 49 mainland cities to visit the SAR in their individual capacity.

Looking back, he admitted the controversy surrounding HKTV was one of his difficult moments.

In October 2013, the station laid off 320 people after the government rejected its application for a free-to-air TV license.

So was teary-eyed when he said that time that "nobody wants to see a decision that affects staff jobs."

He said he plans to spend half a year going on trips, and visiting family in North America, Europe and Australia.

During that time he will also ponder on his next step: whether to return to the legal profession, join the business sector, or pursue other interests.

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June 2017