Hong Kong's growing interest in India as a tourist destination has resulted in the territory spearheading a US$1 million advertising campaign targeting three nations. The campaign is the latest in a series produced by Campaign Advertising for the Government of India Tourist Office. Campaign partner and director Ranjan Isaac said the growth in the Hong Kong tourist market for India was a prime reason for the city to receive the lion's share of the advertising budget. 'Growth in Indian tourism from Hong Kong has been 26 to 27 per cent year-on-year for the past three years, probably as the country's liberalisation programme kicks in,' he said. 'Japan has been even more impressive and we are anticipating this sort of growth to accelerate. By 2000, we hope for 30 to 35 per cent growth year-on-year. 'We have a budget of US$1 million for Hong Kong, the Philippines and Taiwan. Hong Kong will absorb 60 per cent of that because there are far more links between Hong Kong and India. 'For one thing, Hong Kong has a large ethnic Indian population. Air India had its first international link between India and Hong Kong and the city has always been a stronghold. 'There are no direct flights to the Philippines but I'm told that might change soon. Taipei must also go via Hong Kong to India. Both cities have seen increased traffic to India, so direct links are a possibility.' Mr Isaac said India was different to most other destinations in Asia in that the average number of nights tourists chose to stay in the country was 21. 'With an estimated 2.5 million tourists last year multiplied by 21, the result is impressive,' he said. 'In the cases of Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore, for example, the average stay for tourists is around three or four nights. 'Unlike many Asian destinations, India is a vast country and to see it takes a lot more time. There is so much to offer in terms of cultural and historical diversity. Almost no other country has such an array of peoples, religions and races living together. 'Each year with our campaign we are concentrating on different aspects of the country. Our focus is now southern India, breaking the traditional northern-oriented tourist experience surrounding Agra, New Delhi and eating Tandoori.' Mr Isaac said the relatively unexplored south had much to offer, not just from its 7,000 kilometres of pristine beaches, but from the varied cultural influences and the tourism infrastructure evident in new resorts and shopping areas. He said the campaign would primarily centre on print publications, direct mail, exhibitions and Government of India Tourist Office expertise. 'We were using newspapers, including the South China Morning Post, in the last campaign which ended three months ago, selling India as a tourist destination,' he said. Since the launch in 1987, Campaign's billings have grown to $70 million and its staff has increased from five to 33.