Published: 22:59, February 23, 2022 | Updated: 23:09, February 23, 2022
Financial measures to enhance HK's soft power
By Zhang Tianyuan

Lanterns hang at Wong Tai Sin temple ahead of the mid-autumn festival in Hong Kong on Sept 18, 2021. (PETER PARKS / AFP)

HONG KONG - Hong Kong on Wednesday announced financial measures to support and develop the tourism industry, and the arts and culture sector as the city strives to enhance its soft power to build an East‑meets‑West center for international cultural exchange under the 14th Five‑Year Plan (2021-25).

According to the 2022-23 Budget delivered by Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po, a total of HK$1.26 billion ($161.45 million) will be set aside for the tourism industry, which has been hit hard by the pandemic.

HK$600 million will be used to implement a “Cultural and Heritage Sites Local Tour Incentive Scheme”, a three-year program aimed partly at providing incentives for market players to develop tourism products with cultural and heritage elements

Of the amount, HK$600 million will be used to implement a “Cultural and Heritage Sites Local Tour Incentive Scheme”, a three-year program aimed partly at providing incentives for market players to develop tourism products with cultural and heritage elements.

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Another HK$60 million will be used in the training of practitioners for three years to improve professional standards and the service quality of the industry. The remaining HK$600 million will be used to support the work of the Hong Kong Tourism Board to revive the industry.

More than HK$3.8 billion was injected into the tourism industry over the past two years.

Hong Kong is positioned as an East-meets-West center for international cultural exchange under the 14th Five-Year Plan, thus it is significant to develop tourism products with local cultural and heritage elements, Chan said.

Tourism sector lawmaker Perry Yiu Pak-leung said the plan lays a foundation stone for tourism’s long-term development as it can transform the city’s traditional travel model of shopping, dining and entertainment spending into one of culture-related high-quality travel.

“It is a long-term strategy to attract Chinese mainland and overseas tourists,” he said.

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He said the budget would alleviate the industry’s plight to some extent, but resuming border openings with the Chinese mainland is crucial to strengthening the sector. More than half of the visitors welcomed by Hong Kong were from the mainland during the past five years.

Polly Wan, tax partner of Deloitte China, said further details in the implementation of the budget are needed before it is clear how it will affect the tourism industry. Containing the coronavirus is the top task for Hong Kong as tourists from the mainland and foreign countries are important to the recovery of the sector, she added.

Vivian Sum Fong-kwang, tourism commissioner of the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, said the Hong Kong Tourism Board will launch an overseas promotion of Hong Kong tourism when the time is right.

Meanwhile, HK$42 million will be allocated for arts and cultural development, to organize the first Hong Kong Performing Arts Market within two years. The market will include exhibitions, forums, focus discussions, performances and trading.

The city is making efforts to promote the integration of arts and technology, with HK$30 million allocated to promote the application of arts technology in nine major performing arts groups under the Arts Technology Funding Pilot Scheme.

tianyuanzhang@chinadailyhk.com