Hong Kong tourism expo welcomes the world

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The Independent Travel

Fresh from a record-setting 12 months, the Hong Kong tourism industry is preparing for its largest annual gathering - while looking to continue to push its role as the "gateway to China."

The 25th International Travel Expo Hong Kong will run from June 9 to 12 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and is backed by both the Hong Kong Tourism Board and China's all-powerful National Tourism Administration. The show comes just days after KOTFA, South Korea's main tourism fair, which will see exhibitors from around the world highlighting their destinations at Seoul's COEX center June 2-5.

As well as attracting more than 600 exhibitors from 30 countries, the event has increasingly reached out to the public by opening its doors to all-comers on the last two days as well as auctioning off holiday packages and heavily promoting lucky draws which also allow exhibitors to show off their wares.

The two public days this year will feature more than 100 seminars related to travel both in the region and globally as well as a series of cultural performances staged by exhibiting countries.

Much of the attention of course will focus on China as that country continues to open its doors to the world - with an estimated 56 million inbound visitors expected this year.

All the good cheer comes at an important time for the travel sector here. The tourism industry in Hong Kong has over the past year been forced to improve its image - particularly with the all-important mainland Chinese market - after some high-profile gaffes and complaints from local tour operators.

These have included claims from tourists that they have been bullied into spending money at select shops or that the accommodation supplied has not matched the promises they were given when they signed up.

Such is the need to keep the flow of Chinese tourists coming across the border - last year 22.47 million came to Hong Kong, out of a record total of 36 million tourists overall - that a government inquiry is being staged on how to better control the tourism industry.

25th International Travel Expo Hong Kong

June 9-12

Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre

Trade website: www.itehk.com

Public website: www.travelexpo.com.hk

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/itehk