Veteran legislator Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee is to head the Hong Kong Tourist Association in an attempt to reform the promotional body. A government source said yesterday: 'The Tourist Association spent more than $500 million last year. We have to do something to make sure we get value for money.' The association complained that it had been blamed for falling tourist numbers after 1998 when in fact it was caused by the Asian financial crisis, which was beyond its control. The government source said: 'The tourist association says the drop in tourist numbers was due to the financial turmoil and a number of other issues that have hit Hong Kong. 'That makes it even harder to judge whether the association is operating in a cost-effective way.' The government subsidy for 1999-2000 is about $566 million. According to Commissioner for Tourism Mike Rowse, the reforms will include revamping the body's membership system to make it more representative, and cutting funding. The term of the present chairman, Lo Yuk-sui, will end next Friday. More than 10 million tourists visited Hong Kong last year, up 11.5 per cent on 1998, when the figure dropped to 9.57 million. Executive director of the Travel Industry Council Joseph Tung Yao-chung welcomed the appointment. 'She [Mrs Chow] is a current member of the board and she is a responsible person with a good image,' he said. 'I am sure she can make contributions to Hong Kong's tourism.' But he said the association should not be blamed for the drop in tourists two years ago. He said it had worked hard to promote Hong Kong after the Asian financial turmoil. Meanwhile, legislators were told in a written submission by the Government that the association had set aside $4.05 million for international and local market research in the next financial year. It also will spend $2 million on working with Macau and Guangdong authorities to promote tourism in the Pearl River Delta region. Mrs Chow is vice-chairman of the Liberal Party and an HKTA board member.