The Tourism Board has appointed an independent research firm to note attendance for its upcoming Dragon Boat Carnival, following controversies over the government's Mega Events Fund.
The carnival, to be held from June 6 to 8, features dragon boat races in Victoria Harbour, a dragon boat exhibition and a beer festival. China Construction Bank (Asia) is the title sponsor for the HK$18 million event. The Tourism Board paid HK$3 million and the Mega Events Fund will sponsor up to HK$5.5 million.
An Audit Commission report last month criticised the use and monitoring of the fund. It asked whether the Tourism Commission, the fund's secretariat, verified organisers' claims about the sponsored events' attendance figures and jobs they created.
But Tourism Board chairman Peter Lam Kin-ngok said the board's move to appoint an independent firm to conduct the head count was not a result of the controversies over the fund.
"We are not targeting the fund. We want a more detailed analysis of the event," he said, adding that the research firm would note the attendance of tourists and locals, and conduct surveys.
Although the board had commercial sponsors, the Mega Events Fund was still important as an official endorsement, Lam said. "The government element is important for all mega events around the world," he said.
A total of 160 teams - 24 overseas and 136 local - will take part in the three-day dragon boat carnival this year. Those who prefer not to get wet can join the San Miguel beer festival at the Urban Council Centenary Garden.
A dragon boat designed by disabled artists Liu Tung-mui and Apple Tong will be exhibited along the Avenue of Stars.