NEW YORK -- It was two steps forward and one step back as Hong Kong
and the Guangdong province in China were released from the SARS
stigma and Toronto again was touched by it after seeming to be in
Officials at Tourism Toronto said the "Time for a Little T.O."
recovery promotion -- launched only four days before the World
Health Organization (WHO) issued an alert about more suspected
cases in the city -- will continue with its special rates at hotels
and attractions. However, television and print advertising for the
campaign will be put on hold until Toronto is again free of SARS
"It didn't make sense to advertise on TV when there are these
notices," said a spokeswoman for Tourism Toronto. "When the [SARS]
numbers are down and the hospitals are back to normal, we'll see
Bruce MacMillan, CEO of Tourism Toronto, emphasized that the
notices do not warn against travel.
He said, "The WHO and [the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention] notices said that health officials do have it under
control. We've entered into the same precautions we put in place
last time, which resulted in controlling the outbreak."
Toronto received support from the National Tour Association,
whose board of directors decided to hold its annual meeting in the
city in September.
NTA president Hank Phillips said, "While [tourism] can be turned
off in the blink of an eye, it takes a concerted and collective
effort to turn it back on."
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Tourism Board is gearing up its
recovery campaign after months of negative publicity put the clamps
on inbound tourism.
"We're very happy we can move on with our plans," said Lily
Shum, director of the Americas for the board. "We have a very
aggressive plan in place to work with our partners to reverse the
Hong Kong tourism officials will meet with travel agents and
tour operators in Los Angeles June 24, San Francisco June 25, New
York June 26 and Chicago July 9.
According to a spokeswoman from the Hong Kong Economic and Trade
Office, Hong Kong plans to ask the Chinese government for $780
million to fund a campaign to relaunch Hong Kong's economy, much of
it targeted toward the suffering tourism sector.
The China National Tourist Office is waiting until warnings are
removed for the entire country to launch its own campaign.