Following is a speech (in English only) delivered by the Acting Financial Secretary, Mr Rafael S Y Hui, at a dinner reception for APEC Tourism Forum participants at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre tonight (April 29):
Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang, I am glad to extend my warmest welcome and heartfelt appreciation to you for coming to Hong Kong and accepting our invitation to this banquet hosted by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. My colleagues have just shared with me the good news that the first Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Tourism Forum has been held successfully. As you may know, the Financial Secretary attaches great importance to this Forum. Congratulations and thanks to all of you who have contributed to its success. The Forum definitely has served as a major occasion to provide a dialogue between the governments and the business sector on the draft APEC Tourism Charter. This event promoted private sector opinions on the Charter and provided an indication of its expectation on what the Charter must achieve if it is to be successful.
The Tourism Charter is a very worthwhile initiative of the APEC Tourism Working Group comprising officials of the 21 APEC member economies. It reflects a collective commitment to improve the economic, cultural, social and environmental well being of APEC member economies through tourism. The Charter has established four key policy goals, namely, removing impediments to tourism business and investment; increasing mobility of visitors and demand for tourism goods and services in the APEC Region; sustainably managing tourism outcomes and impacts by pursuing policies and enhancing recognition and understanding of tourism as a vehicle for economic and social development for implementation. I am sure the Tourism Charter, when endorsed by the Ministers of the APEC economies in Korea in July, will represent the collective vision, direction and future cooperation among the APEC economies on key tourism issues affecting the APEC Region in the next decade. We have all worked together to chart the new strategic directions for the tourism industry through participating in the Forum and giving views on the draft Charter.
Tourism has maintained its status as one of our key economic strongholds throughout the past years. The experience of the tourism downturn in 1997 was probably a blessing in disguise. It reminds us here in Hong Kong that we need to be proactive in strengthening our role as a key tourist destination in preparation for the new millennium. We have seen healthy signs of recovery over the past year with some 10.7 million visitors coming to Hong Kong. We are dedicated to the continued and sustainable development of the tourism industry and are committed to ensuring that tourism continues to make the maximum contribution possible to the economy.
To spearhead tourism development in Hong Kong, we appointed our first Commissioner for Tourism in May last year and set up the Tourism Commission as part of the Economic Services Bureau. One of the Commission's main tasks is to map out the strategy for developing tourism in future. We have also recently appointed the Honourable Mrs Selina Chow to be the new Chairperson of the Hong Kong Tourist Association. I am confident that under the able leadership of Mrs Chow, the Association and ourselves may work towards the aim of establishing and promoting Hong Kong as Asia's premier international city, a world class destination for leisure and business visitors.
As you are all well aware, Hong Kong is a place with a wide and constantly changing variety of activities and exciting events. I hope you all enjoy your stay here. And may I cordially invite you to visit Hong Kong frequently, whether for business or for pleasure. We look forward to seeing you again soon.
End/Saturday, April 29, 2000