HONG KONG is facing a severe squeeze on hotel rooms and the Government should lease land specifically for hotel development in the territory, says Payson Cha. The lack of rooms and the recent trend of converting hotels into more lucrative commercial developments was threatening Hong Kong's economic well-being, he said. 'I would urge the Government to sell hotel property because hotels are required if Hong Kong wants to continue to accommodate visitors,' he said. 'At the moment it is booked solid. 'It is actually doing us a disservice because people simply can't come here. When people can't come, how do you do commerce, how do you continue to bring tourism in? 'We are letting something that is a very important sector of Hong Kong's economy down badly. The Government should be duty-bound to do something for the long term.' Existing property leases did not stop developers from pulling down hotels and building office complexes, he said. Mr Cha called on the Government to sell off land designated for hotel development - at prices that reflected current room rental rates. This year several Hong Kong hotels, including the landmark Hongkong Hilton in Queen's Road, Central, were consigned to the wrecker's ball to make way for offices. Occupancy rates in Hong Kong for the first 10 months of the year have averaged 84 per cent, three per cent lower than for the same period last year, but the Hong Kong Tourist Association says there will be fewer rooms in the medium term. 'We are keen to lobby the Government to support the development of new hotels,' Shirley Ping, of the HKTA, said. 'We are taking every opportunity to talk to the Government and private sector to encourage new development.' The Government has announced nine sites for hotel development in conjunction with the Chek Lap Kok airport project. This will add 5,000 rooms to the pool, but is unlikely to satisfy demand.