Taxpayer to foot bill for fireworks

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 December, 2011, 12:00am


The New Year's countdown fireworks show will be on the taxpayers' tab this year, as two property giants decided to stop sponsoring the event after four years of support.

The end of their support will also mark the last time the spectacular is held on the landmark 88-storey Two IFC, a joint development by Sun Hung Kai Properties, Henderson Land - the two sponsoring developers - and Towngas.

The two companies announced in October that they would stop sponsoring the HK$8.5 million event, but would provide the same venue for this year.

That led to a frenzied search for new sponsors by the Hong Kong Tourism Board, Anthony Lau Chun-hon, the board's executive director, said yesterday.

'Time was tight, so my colleagues had to work longer hours to try to find sponsorship for the event, but until today we had not found any suitable sponsor,' he said.

That is why on top of the HK$5.5 million that the board was prepared to pay, it had obtained funding support of HK$3 million from a government fund, he said. 'We are grateful for the government's support.'

Despite the sponsors' withdrawal, Lau said the board was determined to continue putting the show on because 'it is worth it'.

'The amount of media coverage it gets every year will help promote Hong Kong to people all over the world,' he said.

After this year, the show would probably be held on one of the famed buildings flanking Victoria Harbour, he said.

The event's budget would not be reduced, because 'events like this are to be made bigger and better every year', he said.

The theme of the display, which will begin seconds before next year arrives and continue for four minutes into the new year, will be 'Soaring dragon with a happy heart'.

This year's fireworks would include, for the first time, the words 'Happy New Year' spelled out in pyrotechnics above Victoria Harbour, Lau said.

Spectators will see fireworks shooting out from three sides of Two IFC, the city's tallest building.

Fireworks will be launched from 10 landmark buildings on Hong Kong Island. An LED display on Two IFC will count down the last minute of this year, then the fireworks will run for four minutes.

A Tourism Board spokeswoman said good vantage points would be the Cultural Centre in TST or Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai.

When asked in October about the sponsors pulling out, Cynthia Leung of the Hong Kong Tourism Board - which organises the event - said that as far as the board knew, it was a commercial decision.