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Hong Kong

Hong Kong leader appeals to Beijing for more Chinese tourists  Dec 18, 2008

Hong Kong - Hong Kong chief executive Donald Tsang Thursday appealed to Beijing to allow more tourists from mainland China into the former British colony to help revive its flagging economy.

Tsang made the appeal at a meting with the chairman of the national Tourism Administration, Shao Qiwei, during a three-day duty visit to the Chinese capital.

The Hong Kong leader said a combination of the global financial crisis and the introduction of direct flights between China and Taiwan, which means that Chinese visitors to Taiwan no longer need to transit via Hong Kong, had affected tourism.

Tsang told Shao a further relaxation in the regulations on mainland visitors to visit Hong Kong would compensate for the recent drop in tourist arrivals.

China is credited with rescuing Hong Kong's economy after the 2003 SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, crisis by easing travel restrictions to allow millions of additional mainland Chinese visitors across the border on shopping trips.

More than half of last year's 28 million visitors to Hong Kong came from mainland China, but Tsang hopes a relaxation of cross-border rules can be extended to other parts of China.

Tsang is due to hold talks with President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao on Friday. Discussions are expected to be dominated by the global economic slump.

Wealthy Hong Kong slipped into a recession last month after seeing property prices crash, unemployment rise and the Hang Seng Index lose almost 20,000 points from its peak of almost 32,000 points in October 2007.

Hong Kong leader appeals to Beijing for more Chinese tourists
Donald Tsang / Image via

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