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Budget Speech by the Financial Secretary (8)

Promoting Tourism

80. Last year, the financial tsunami and the human swine influenza dealt a heavy blow to tourism.  Thanks to the support of the Mainland authorities and the concerted effort of the Government and the travel industry, total visitor arrivals have reverted to an upward trend since August.  Total visitor arrivals in 2009 rose slightly to nearly 30 million, exceeding the total for 2008.  As the economy recovers, we expect a further increase in the number of visitors.

81. Starting last April, Shenzhen permanent residents have been able to apply for an individual visit endorsement that allows them to make multiple visits to Hong Kong in one year.  As at early February this year, the total number of trips made with this endorsement to visit Hong Kong exceeded 1.9 million.  The response is encouraging.  Arrangements for non-Guangdong residents living in Shenzhen to apply for individual visit endorsements in Shenzhen were also implemented last December.

82. We hope that these measures to help Shenzhen residents visit Hong Kong can be extended to cover more cities in the PRD region, and eventually all of Guangdong Province.  As there are about 83 million permanent residents in Guangdong, the extension of these measures, if implemented, will bring considerable benefit to our tourism, retail and the related industries.

83. We will also develop new travel themes and products to attract returning visitors.  More than $25 million of funds in sponsorship of six arts, cultural and sports events held in Hong Kong has been approved so far under the Mega Events Fund unveiled last year.  The results of the second round applications will be announced shortly.  These diversified mega events will enrich the experience of visitors, as well as add to the vibrancy of Hong Kong.

84. Last year saw the opening of a large number of new tourist attractions, as well as the addition of new features to existing ones.  Noah's Ark in Ma Wan, the Hong Kong National Geopark, and the 1881 Heritage at the Former Marine Police Headquarters Historic Compound opened last year.  A number of large scale attractions at Ocean Park are also coming on stream.  All these have made Hong Kong's tourist attractions more diversified.  Looking ahead, the first berth of the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal will come into operation in mid-2013.  Hong Kong Disneyland has also embarked on an expansion plan to add three new themed areas over the next few years.

Promoting Businesses Related to Wine Trading

85. Businesses related to wine trading, distribution and auctions have grown considerably since 2008, when the Government scrapped wine duties and launched a series of facilitation measures.  After recording an 80 per cent increase in 2008, the total value of wine imports reached $4 billion in 2009, marking a further growth of 41 per cent year-on-year.  According to information provided by the industry, Hong Kong has surpassed London to become the second largest wine auction centre in the world.  To help the industry better grasp the business opportunities in the Mainland, we have just signed an agreement with the General Administration of Customs to provide facilitation measures for wines exported from Hong Kong to the Mainland.  The measures will be implemented on a trial basis in Shenzhen in the second quarter of 2010.  We will continue to explore other measures to strengthen Hong Kong's position as a regional wine trading and distribution hub which in turn will help boost employment.

86. Regarding promotional efforts, the first Wine and Dine Festival held in October last year was well received.  The Hong Kong Tourism Board will stage the event again on an even larger scale this year.  Building on the success of the last two years, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council will continue to organise the Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Fair at the end of this year.  Vinexpo, a renowned wine and spirits exhibition from France, will also be held in Hong Kong for the fourth time.

Developing Testing and Certification Services

87. I will allocate $20 million in the next two years to support the work of the Hong Kong Council for Testing and Certification set up last September, with a view to enhancing the professional standards of the local testing and certification services as well as international recognition, thereby creating more business opportunities.  I will also allocate an additional $21 million in the next two years to the Hong Kong Accreditation Service to strengthen services to the industry.

88. The Hong Kong Council for Testing and Certification will shortly submit to the Chief Executive an industry development plan for the coming three years.  The plan will make specific recommendations to increase the competitiveness of the industry, step up promotional effort in the Mainland and overseas, strengthen manpower support, and help the industry tap business opportunities in those areas with good potential.  I will provide the necessary resources when required.

(To be continued)

Ends/Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Issued at HKT 11:55


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