SCMP Saturday, August 25, 2001

Scheme an attempt to restore faded glamour


Despite the lack of mega-projects, the Tourism Hong Kong promotion launched by the Government signifies a multi-faceted approach to dealing with both immediate problems and realising a long-term vision.
At a time of severe economic slowdown, job insecurity and a growing crisis of confidence, the Government must be seen to be acting swiftly and decisively, to help enliven the economy and provide at least some sense of hope.
This has been achieved partly by a visit by Financial Secretary Antony Leung Kam-chung to Beijing this week, during which he was said to have made good progress in securing Beijing's approval for allowing more mainland visitors to come and spend money in Hong Kong.
Yesterday's tourism initiative seeks to convince sceptics that with numerous new tourist attractions and projects the Government has both the commitment and ideas needed to restore the faded glamour of the territory.
More importantly, SAR leaders are striving to send the message that bolstering the development of the tourism sector is about more than just making good financial sense.
Underlying the emphasis on the need for changes in culture and attitudes is the crucial issue of Hong Kong people aiming for better quality and high value-added service.
If the significance of the latter had previously eluded Hong Kong when championed by Mr Tung, then the tourism re-launch has made its importance manifestly obvious.
Gone are the days when it was fashionable to talk of Hong Kong as a blessed place where wealth flowed in as a matter of course.
The reality facing Hong Kong is that its future lies in its ability to offer the best - be it in the form of tourist attractions or hotel service - in a highly-competitive world.
By promoting the idea of being a good host, Mr Tung and his top aides are hoping to change the mentality of those in Hong Kong who harbour negative feelings towards visitors.
There is a long way to go, however, before Mr Tung will be able to convince people from different walks of life that Asia's World City has achieved the quality that he envisages and will be a city that is inclusive and participatory.