Commercial entertainment events may attract money from a government fund set up to lure visitors to the city. The assessment committee of the Mega Events Fund has relaxed rules to let for-profit bodies apply for funding, following criticism that some of the events the committee supported were too small. Under the new rules, the government will be entitled to a pro rata profit of commercially organised events, but 'there could be other possibilities as the operation mode differs for each project', according to committee chairman Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung. An independent consultant will also identify potential international events to bring to the city. The fund was set up in May 2009 to create jobs and promote Hong Kong by helping non-profit groups host arts, cultural and sporting events. But some of the projects that were given millions of dollars attracted barely a thousand visitors, compared to the 42 million visitors who came to Hong Kong last year. One example was the Hong Kong Tennis Classic held in January 2010. It was given HK$9 million but attracted only 942 visitors. Lam said the fund had been overhauled to make commercial events eligible for the HK$150 million it had to channel to projects over the next five years. 'Profit-making organisations can also apply to the fund while we will proactively invite major global events to come to the city,' said Lam, whose tenure ends next month. 'Some want bigger events to be staged in the city, but excluding profit-making organisations limits the possibilities. 'Some asked us why we were not inviting [soccer teams] Real Madrid or Manchester United to the city [but] they are profit-making organisations.' The fund spent HK$51 million of the HK$100 million it was allocated in the 2009 budget for its first three years, and the remainder will not be carried over. It received 80 applications in six rounds and gave money to 16, all of them non-profit groups. Responding to claims that some of those events failed to raise the city's profile and attract visitors, Lam said that it took time to build an icon. 'The [Hong Kong] Rugby Sevens has been organised for decades yet it's only in recent years that it has become a popular attraction,' he said, referring to the annual international tournament founded in 1976. 'You need time to build a brand and reputation for an event. The committee wants to be an incubator to nurture Hong Kong's own mega events.' Lam said he thought the most successful event in the first three years was the Hong Kong Open golf tournament held late last year, which generated overseas publicity for the city. 'Foreign sports channels like ESPN looped the tournament for a few consecutive weeks and Hong Kong's logo was highly visible,' he said. Vincent Fung Hao-yin, committee secretary and an assistant commissioner for tourism, said the Philharmonic Orchestra's 'Symphony under the Stars' programme was also a great success, attracting 18,000 people. 'We also hope to boost Hong Kong as a tourism brand with the help of the events, such as publicising our flying dragon logo in event material,' Fung said. 'It helps as many event videos are broadcast overseas.'