Tsang praises Japan tourism deals

by Reiji Yoshida

Visiting Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang on Wednesday praised Japan for signing accords with Hong Kong to boost tourism and launch a working holiday system.

Speaking at the Japan National Press Club, Tsang said the Japan Tourism Agency, which was set up in October, made “the right choice” in selecting Hong Kong as its first tourism-year partner.

Tourism from Hong Kong to Japan has been rising lately. Visitors surged 27.3 percent to 550,200 last year, despite the sharp appreciation of the yen and the global financial crisis, which has hurt Hong Kong’s dynamic economy as well.

Tsang’s visit — his first to Japan since being appointed chief executive in 2005 — was made to celebrate the Japan-Hong Kong Tourism Exchange Year of 2009.

On Tuesday he agreed with Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone to launch a mutual working holiday system for young people.

On the global financial turmoil, Tsang said Hong Kong’s banks and brokerages are in better financial shape than their U.S. and European counterparts and Asia’s financial system is more robust than it was when the Asian financial crisis hit in the late 1990s, but he still voiced worry.