HK tourism in good shape to steam ahead

The premature transfer of Mike Rowse, tourism commissioner, to director-general, inward investment (, June 16) is not a setback to the industry, said executive director of the Hong Kong Tourist Association, Amy Chan. This is because, she said, much work had been done in the past 12 months to set the stage for the new, tripartite relationship between government, the HKTA and the private sector. An open recruitment is underway for a new tourism commissioner. Asked if Selina Chow, chairman of the HKTA, would be a possible candidate, Chan said, "I don't think so. She's too busy with Legco (Legislative Council)." Asked if she would apply for the job, Chan said, "I am very happy with what I do. I don't want to be Tourism Commissioner." The top-level change is happening at the same time as staff changes within the HKTA, which has led to speculation that a witch-hunt is underway at the HKTA, with Chan its prime target. But Chan dismissed the speculation, saying it was unfounded. Douglas Gautier, deputy executive director since November 1997, announced his resignation a couple of weeks ago, and will leave by year end when his contract is up. He has yet to make known his plans but it is believed the former Hill & Knowlton executive will rejoin the private sector. Stanley Yip, general manager-planning, research and development, will be leaving to join Internet startup, "Stanley did 29 studies in three years under the HK$15 million Tourism Development Fund - we could not have asked more from him," said Chan. Carmen Lam, senior manager-tourism, resigned to join Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts as vice president-marketing based at the Island Shangri-La. Peter Randall, public relations manager, "has decided to outsource himself and he will be working with us on some projects", said Chan. She stressed there was no retrenchment exercise underway at the HKTA. "We may be redefining roles, every organisation needs that." She said it was also natural that organisations lose staff as Hong Kong's economy was recovering "and I am glad people think our staff are good enough for them". A search is underway for replacements for all four positions. Stressing that the changes were not taking place all at the same time, as had been portrayed by some media, she said, "Change is not a bad thing. It allows new people to bring in new ideas and new experiences. I like to be more optimistic and positive. I believe new blood and new thinking will be good to balance the experience of the existing staff." Asked what she thought about critics' comments that possibly new blood was needed at the helm of HKTA, Chan said, "I am enriching myself everyday. Maybe there will come a time when I have to be changed. That's not unnatural. I've been doing this for six years and I still am enjoying it. But if I don't perform or I don't create or I can't lead the organisation, then that's different."

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