Tourism Commissioner Mike Rowse yesterday gave his initial backing to a second convention centre, saying it could help to attract more visitors. The proposal to build a giant new convention centre was suggested by a consultancy appointed by the Business and Services Promotion Unit headed by Mr Rowse. The report said Hong Kong needed a second convention and exhibition centre with an area of 50,000 square metres - about the same size as the Wan Chai centre. The report suggested the centre, which it said was needed to maintain Hong Kong's status as a world-class business centre, should be opened at Chek Lap Kok between 2005 and 2007. Mr Rowse said the report was still being considered by his Tourism Commission and the Airport Authority. He said many visitors to Hong Kong were on business, with conventions and exhibitions forming a major market segment. 'If we haven't got enough facilities to cope with that market, we're not going to get those visitors.' Mr Rowse said business travellers could reinforce leisure tourism, and vice versa. 'If you go somewhere on business and you like it, you might come back three months, six months later with your family for a holiday.' The existing convention centre, including the extension, has an occupancy rate of about 50 per cent, a level which Mr Rowse said was regarded as very good abroad. He said large exhibitions tended to book prominent space at the venue, squeezing out conventions. He warned that if the situation continued, no one would be interested in holding conventions in Hong Kong. Mr Rowse said the same theory applied to the need for a second cruise terminal. A new cruise terminal will be among 20 proposals to be discussed next month by a working group set up to find ways to improve attractions and to identify new ones. The working group and two other tourism strategy taskforces will come up with a report for submission to Tung Chee-hwa by the end of March. Mr Rowse said his commission would also work out ways to attract visitors to stay longer in Hong Kong as the average length of stay had declined.