An arts tourism taskforce is to be set up as the first step in an attempt to make Hong Kong the events capital of Asia. The group will be formed by seven or eight members of a 26-member think-tank which comprises representatives from the Government, tourism sector, media and arts community. The taskforce will spend the next six months coming up with longer-term strategies. One of the European Union's main advisers on tourism and culture, Robert Palmer, attended yesterday's think-tank meeting. Tourist Association deputy executive director Douglas Gautier said everyone was unanimous in wanting a new strategy of compromise. 'We identified many of the hurdles and believe we can overcome them,' he said. 'Most importantly, we have seen the opportunities and plan to seize them.' No specifics were talked about yesterday and there was no mention of more money, said Vincent Chow, chairman of the Arts Development Council. But he said that Hong Kong had invested a lot of public money in developing the arts and should look at how to make the best use of that. 'How do we increase the economic return of that,' he asked, stressing that there was no question of seeking artistic compromise. 'We have been warned by the experts that we have to have very high standards before we can contemplate selling the arts to tourists.' One of the benefits of cooperation between the sectors was to foster an enterprising spirit among smaller artistic companies, said Mr Chow. 'There has been criticism that some of our companies are rather dependent on public handouts and this could prove a good opportunity for them to develop their enterprising spirit by collaborating with commercial entities so that they increase their sales.' The potential was huge, said Mr Gautier. He said tourist association surveys had shown that 15 per cent of visitors were interested in performing arts, cultural and related activities. 'Tourists want to get behind picture-postcard images and get insight into lifestyle, culture and heritage,' he said.