TAIWAN is considering a plan to strengthen its representation in Hong Kong by opening a tourist office. The director of Taipei's Department of Hong Kong and Macau Affairs, Cheng An-kuo, confirmed yesterday the Tourism Bureau was planning to set up an office in the territory. The office would aim to offer a better service to Taiwanese businessmen and their counterparts in Hong Kong and Macau, Mr Cheng said. But he stressed the proposal was an 'initial' idea suggested by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, which controls the Tourism Bureau, and details were yet to be finalised. The move would boost Taiwan's government organisations' visibility in the territory. Existing representative bodies are led by Chung Hwa Travel Service, a mission of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which will be transferred to the Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council. Other unofficial representatives include the Overseas Chinese Travel Agency, part of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission; the Kwang Hua Information and Cultural Centre, governed by the Government Information Agency; and the Far Eastern Trading Service, part of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. The portfolio of the proposed organisation has not been revealed and it is not known how it will liaise with Taiwan's existing travel agencies in Hong Kong. Mr Cheng, widely expected to succeed John Ni to become Taiwan's representative in the territory, said Taipei would maintain its ties with Hong Kong after 1997 as they were important to one another's economic development. 'We feel the close ties between Taiwan and Hong Kong should be kept going as this will enhance the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong as well as the development of Taiwan,' the director said. He said continued relations with the island helped Hong Kong play an intermediary role between China and Taiwan. Mr Cheng said he did not know when he would travel to Hong Kong to take over as head of Chung Hwa Travel Service. The Department of Hong Kong and Macau Affairs is controlled by the Mainland Affairs Council.