Hong Kong defends reduced funding for local
The Hong Kong government has clarified the reduced funding for the local travel and tourism sector is due to the completion of a non-recurrent funding to the Ocean Park Corporation by 2022-23, partly offset by increased provision for tourism initiatives.
The figure, stated in legislative documents released earlier this month, stated that the provision for 2023-24 was $951.5 million, which was nearly 40% (37.7%) lower than the revised estimate for 2022-23. This raised questions among lawmakers who challenged the government’s decision to pull back support.
Lawmaker Chan Yong asked why the tourism sector funding was cut when the sector was gradually recovering and was in urgent need of support. Another lawmaker Sunny Tan also asked whether the government and relevant departments understand Ocean Park’s latest development direction and planning.
According to the official written statement from Permanent Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism Joe Wong to Chan, the provision for 2023-24 is $575.9 million (37.7%) lower than the revised estimate for 2022-23. It is mainly due to the completion of a non-recurrent funding (HK$784.0 million) to the Ocean Park Corporation by 2022-23, partly offset by increased provision for tourism initiatives (HK$208.1 million). Thus, there is an increase in the provision for travel and tourism sector after excluding the completion of a non-recurrent funding to OPC.
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Replying to Tan, Wong said that following the lifting of all anti-pandemic measures and Hong Kong’s resumption of convenient travel between Hong Kong and the mainland as well as overseas countries, Ocean Park was launching a multipronged approach and progressively launch customised marketing promotion in different visitor markets.
According to a report by SCMP, Teddy Chung, president of the Hong Kong Tourism Association, said that the cut in funding was not good, that new funds could be used to repair or buy new tour coaches, or help operators to hire more drivers, as business were facing a shortage of workers.
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