A dancing Mickey Mouse, Snow White and Dumbo the flying elephant were
among the Disney characters greeting Beijingers yesterday at an event promoting
a new Disney theme park due to open in Hong Kong in September.
Showcasing the Disney fantasy is part of the Hong Kong Special Administrative
Region's efforts to realize the "2006 Discover Hong Kong Year" plan.
A range of new tourist attractions is expected from late 2005 to 2006.
"Tourism is a key driving force for Hong Kong's economy and a major tie
between Hong Kong and the mainland - where most of Hong Kong's tourists come
from," said Eva Cheng, Hong Kong commissioner for tourism.
In 2004, visitor arrivals reached a record high of 21.8 million, with 56 per
cent of them coming from the mainland.
The Chinese mainland is also seeing many tourists from Hong Kong.
Hong Kongers paid more than 60 million visits to the mainland last year,
equivalent to 87 per cent of Hong Kong's outbound travel.
This year, in a bid to maintain the robust tourism growth, the Hong Kong
government is going all out to appeal to the world to experience Hong Kong's
unique blend of Eastern and Western culture.
Families are being targeted with a list of new attractions.
They include the Hong Kong Disneyland and phase two of "A Symphony of Lights"
- a nightly light and sound show.
The "Ngong Ping 360," a panoramic view of Lantau Island from a cable-car and
the Hong Kong Wetland Park are also key venues.
Don Robinson, group managing director of Hong Kong Disneyland, said he
believed the first Disney theme park in China was part of the Hong Kong
government's long-term vision to enhance Hong Kong's reputation as a leading
family vacation destination in the region.
Selina Chow, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, said she was glad
Hong Kong has, for the first time, been listed as one of the top 10 tourism
destinations by the World Tourism Organization.
"This proves that all the investment and efforts put into tourism after the
down time caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome have paid off," she
Statistics show that more than HK$31 billion (US$3.7 billion) has been pumped
into tourism infrastructure and related facilities in Hong Kong.