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Tourism chief pledges to ease hotel prices
( 2003-08-28 08:57) (China Daily)

The Hong Kong Tourism Board will work with the special administrative region's hotel industry to ease the recent price increases imposed by some hotels in Hong Kong, the board's executive director said yesterday in Beijing.

Tourists pose for photos.

Some hotels in Hong Kong imposed price rises of up to 60 per cent earlier this month, according to Xinhua News Agency.

Vast numbers of tourists have swarmed there since June from the Chinese mainland.

According to some industry insiders on the mainland, the situation will probably get even worse in September as residents in Beijing and Shanghai are expected to benefit from a simplified procedure for individual travellers going to Hong Kong, starting on Monday.

Mainland residents, except for those living in eight cities in Guangdong, currently have to join groups organized by travel agencies if they want to visit Hong Kong or Macao. Residents of Dongguan, Foshan, Jiangmen and Zhongshan have been able to visit the special administrative regions individually since July 28, while those in Guangzhou, Huizhou, Shenzhen and Zhuhai got that right on August 20.

Clara Chong, executive director of the Hong Kong Tourism Board said in Beijing yesterday: "After Hong Kong was removed from the (World Health Organization) travel advisory against SARS in May, hotels reduced their prices to attract tourists. The current prices of Hong Kong's hotels are back to normal - that is, the prices before the SARS outbreak."

Chong said that the price rises are not aimed at tourists visiting from the Chinese mainland, which is a very important tourist market for Hong Kong.

Chong said her organization will work with hotel industry insiders to build more hotels to alleviate the hotel shortage in an effort to get prices under control.

The territory's government is negotiating with real estate agents to build 32,000 hotel rooms, mainly rated three-star and above, over the next five years.

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