City's filthy air will continue to put off tourists

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 January, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 January, 2002, 12:00am
 

I was a resident in Hong Kong and left, with much sadness, in 1999.


While the situation with regard to air pollution was very bad when I lived here, on returning for a visit recently I was horrified to see how much worse it has become in the two-year period since my departure. I note that the SAR Government has mounted an expensive advertising campaign to attract tourists to Hong Kong.


It seems to be oblivious to the fact that tourists are unlikely to visit a city with such appalling air quality when there are so many other interesting and less polluted cities in the region. It is certain that if they visit once, they will be unlikely to return.


It cannot be acceptable for the Government to excuse itself by saying that there is little it can do, or to weakly cave in to a few self-interested minibus drivers.


I now live in Tokyo. When I first resided in the city in the early 1990s, pollution was about as bad as it now is in Hong Kong.


However, by dint of continuous efforts by the Tokyo city authorities air quality has now improved to a level that is quite acceptable.


If the SAR Government really wants Hong Kong to be a world city, it has to make dramatic improvements in that most basic element required for survival - the air that both residents and visitors must breathe.


OWEN JONES


Tokyo, Japan


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