That there was still growth in tourist arrivals in a year in which planes were grounded after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon was encouraging. But the figures should be treated with caution. Although gross arrivals soared by 5.1 per cent to 13.7 million last year, the bulk of the increase was attributed to travellers on transit through Chek Lap Kok airport. Real tourists who stayed here for one night or more rose by only 0.7 per cent, or about 65,000. The increase in the number of transit travellers is still welcome, because the airport and its facilities have benefited from their patronage. As the Tourism Board notes, the rise reflects Hong Kong's growing status as a leading regional air hub. But transit travellers' contributions are much less than those who stay at our hotels, sample our cuisine and buy at our shops. Attracting this kind of real visitor must remain the focus of the board. Tourism is a major pillar of the economy, providing employment to tens of thousands of people. To breathe life into the moribund economy, the SAR Government has done much to boost tourist arrivals, such as lobbying mainland authorities to relax travel restrictions and allowing more travel agents to organise tours to Hong Kong. The subsequent growth in the number of mainland visitors more than offset falls in arrivals from other parts of the world. If things go well, our proximity to the large mainland market should continue to support a vibrant hospitality industry here. But that is if those in the trade are prepared to change their mind set and stop seeing mainlanders as country bumpkins to be fleeced. Instead, they should develop new programmes that cater to their taste. Two weeks ago, RTHK held its annual Chinese hit song awards gala show at the Coliseum. Through the help of mainland broadcasters, about 1,000 visitors from across the country joined tours to come to Hong Kong especially to see the show. Many Hong Kong and Taiwan singers such as Faye Wong, Andy Lau, Jacky Cheung and Jay Chou are highly popular on the mainland. More and more of their fans there can now afford to spend a few thousand yuan to see their idols perform live on stage here and experience the wonders of this Pearl of the Orient. Promoting this kind of entertainment travel is an idea that the Tourism Board and travel operators should further explore. Despite the emergence of the large mainland market, the tourism industry should not give up on other markets. When Disneyland opens in 2005, it should become a new attraction for visitors from Southeast Asia and the mainland. Visitors from North America and Europe had peaked in 1997 and then dropped because of the so-called handover effect. But we must try to maintain interest about Hong Kong in the West. Life has not changed much here since 1997. It is still home to a large expatriate community, and an interesting place to visit.