Following is the speech by the Financial Secretary, Mr Henry Tang, at the opening ceremony of the "HONG KONG 2004 Stamp Expo" at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre this (January 30) morning (English only):
Mr Allan Chiang, Mr Surajit Gongvatana, Mrs Selina Chow, Mr William Kwan, ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning and Kung Hei Fat Choy. It is my great pleasure to welcome you all to the HONG KONG 2004 Stamp Expo today, which also happens to be the ninth day in the Lunar New Year. To most Chinese people the number nine is extremely lucky, and is associated with the idea of being "long lasting". It is therefore fitting that I wish every participant of HONG KONG 2004 a good start to the year and ever lasting prosperity.
I believe some of our guests here may not be keen philatelists, at least not yet, but I am sure every one taking part in this Expo is attracted by both the multitude of enticing experiences in Hong Kong, and the innovative ideas and continuous improvements of Hongkong Post in the organisation of world-class stamp exhibitions.
Tourism is one of the pillars of Hong Kong's economy. The continuous growth and development of the business depends very much on the contributions of everyone in Hong Kong, of employers and employees within the trade, as well as of everyone directly or indirectly benefiting from the prosperity of the tourist industry. Indeed, a joint effort in keeping Hong Kong clean and green, a friendly smile, or a simple offer of assistance towards visitors' enquiries can carry as much weight as good customer services and quality products.
With the Expo theme on "Tourism", Hongkong Post has set an excellent example in promoting the attraction, diversity and sophistication of our city. Through the issuing of various creative and beautifully designed stamp products such as the "Tourism" series stamp sheetlets, Hongkong Post has highlighted the wonderful and unique features of Hong Kong that put us squarely on tourists' map.
In 2003, Hong Kong welcomed more than 15.5 million visitors. And last month alone, 1.79 million visitors arrivals were registered. In the Year of the Monkey, I am sure the business community will make the best use of these opportunities to push our economy forward.
Last but not least, may I once again wish you a successful and rewarding Year of the Monkey, and I hope you will enjoy the Expo as much as I will.
Ends/Friday, January 30, 2004