Gamblers will be able to fly from Hong Kong to Las Vegas when a new non-stop service is launched in August, the head of the Travel Industry Council said yesterday. Joseph Tung Yao-chung, the council's executive director, said Singapore Airlines would begin the service on August 2. The route is the sixth the Civil Aviation Department has opened up since December. Mr Tung said he understood the flights to the Nevada gambling mecca would be non-stop, although he did not have details about their frequency. Currently, Hong Kong passengers heading for Las Vegas have to change flights in Seattle, Vancouver or Tokyo. 'Hopefully the flights to Las Vegas can spark a new round of tourism fever in the United States,' he said. 'The flights to new destinations definitely help the industry to develop new markets and attract more tourists to Hong Kong.' Mr Tung said the number of tours organised by Hong Kong travel agents had dropped by 70 per cent since the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US. Compared to last year's summer schedule, airlines are operating 208 new passenger and cargo flights from Hong Kong, while 93 have been cancelled, making a net increase of 115. Most of the additional passenger services operate between Hong Kong and cities on the mainland, such as Guangzhou and Shanghai. Most of the flights cancelled serve other cities in Asia and have been cut because demand is seasonal or because of changing marketing strategies. The other destinations to which airlines have begun flying from Hong Kong since December are Sapporo in Japan, Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, Helsinki in Finland, Addis Ababa in Ethiopia and Pusan in South Korea. With the additional services, planes of 68 airlines serving more than 130 destinations will operate from Chek Lap Kok airport.