'Hong Kong Looking Ahead' to return of tourists

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NEW YORK -- Hong Kong is getting in gear.

The Hong Kong Legislative Council last week approved a $128.2 million funding package for a "global relaunch of Hong Kong as the best place in Asia to do business and a great place to visit."

The six-month plan, dubbed "Hong Kong Looking Ahead," is set to kick off July 1 and will include a worldwide marketing campaign, including international advertising, media events and fam trips coordinated through the Pacific Asia Travel Association and the World Travel and Tourism Council.

The campaign, designed shortly after the World Health Organization lifted its SARS travel advisory May 23, includes a new Web site [www.hklookingahead.gov.hk] that will display the latest information about Hong Kong.

Advertisements were placed in 26 leading newspapers in Europe, Asia and Australia to publicize the lifting of the WHO's travel advisory, but the North American campaign will not get started until the Centers for Disease Control's warning is lifted.

The Hong Kong government earmarked $53.46 million to promote tourism and stimulate the local economy. The specific allocation to the Hong Kong Tourism Board has not yet been determined, according to a board spokeswoman.

China, meanwhile, reported no new probable SARS cases as of June 2. That's the first time that's happened since the outbreak began. Beijing and Hebei were the last two cities to report new cases on June 1.

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