Tourists need bus interchange more than yet another piazza
The tourism commissioner has claimed that the planned piazza on the current site of the Tsim Sha Tsui bus terminus will boost tourism ('Tourism boss defends TST piazza plan', August 17).
As a regular visitor to Hong Kong, I would argue that this will do nothing of the sort. Tsim Sha Tsui already has piazzas outside the Cultural Centre and at 1881 Heritage, the former Marine Police headquarters.
Additionally, Tsim Sha Tsui East Promenade and the Avenue of Stars are large harbourfront recreational areas for tourists where outdoor entertainment regularly takes place.
The planned Central harbourfront will have piazzas, Ngong Ping is currently being vandalised by the construction of a new piazza and no doubt West Kowloon Cultural District will also have a piazza. In fact, Hong Kong seems to have an obsession with using the building of piazzas as an excuse to replace anything that allegedly has no 'heritage value'.
Well, I can assure the commissioner that the bus terminus next to the Star Ferry does have a heritage value as far as this visitor is concerned. For many years, it has provided an extremely useful interchange for those of us travelling from Hong Kong Island, already inconvenienced by the relocation of the Central Star Ferry Pier. You can catch buses travelling up Nathan Road or to Hung Hom and to places beyond as an alternative to being entombed underground in an MTR carriage.
The Octopus card makes bus travel for tourists in Hong Kong extremely easy and, rather than encourage the demolition of this bus terminus, the Tourism Board would better serve tourists by promoting the bus routes that operate from this terminus to such attractions as Mong Kok street markets, the flower market, bird garden, Museum of History, Science Museum, Kowloon Walled City Park and Wong Tai Sin Temple.
I doubt very much whether this development would attract a single additional tourist. The piazza is neither wanted nor needed even if it does include an old train carriage as a visitor centre, presumably in a similar vein to the old tram cabin which poses as a visitor centre at, yes, you guessed, the Peak piazza.
Ian Boyce, Southampton, England