The number of people visiting Hong Kong government Web sites has increased by 46 per cent from 507,069 last year to 738,486 this year, a survey has found. According to a study conducted by Nielsen//NetRatings Hong Kong, the domain of info.gov.hk was the most popular government site with 407,592 unique visitors in August, an increase from 316,307 last year. Peter Steyn, sales and marketing director of Nielsen//NetRatings Hong Kong, said the site contained comprehensive information about government services and news which attracted a big following in the 18-34 age group. The site lcsd.gov.hk - offering information on leisure and cultural services, museums, performing arts, recreation and sports - ranked second with an audience of 180,605. The domain of hkpl.gov. hk came third with 167,060 visitors, an increase of 28.6 per cent from 129,827 last year. 'The Hong Kong public libraries site, hkpl.gov.hk, is an increasingly popular site in Hong Kong and offers the convenience of online library browsing, as well as reserving and renewing of library books,' Mr Steyn said. Weather sites hko.gov.hk and weather.gov.hk attracted an unduplicated combined audience of 190,000 in August. Mr Steyn said this was because the month was stormy compared with a calm August in 2001. 'The audience of the Hong Kong Observatory site is highly dependent on deteriorating weather conditions and approaching cyclones. The August 2002 unique audience was almost five times as high as August 2001 as no less than seven tropical cyclones occurred over the western North Pacific and South China Sea this past August. In comparison, August 2001 was warmer and drier than usual and the No 1 signal was hoisted only once when Tropical Storm Fitow passed by.' Amid the high unemployment rate in Hong Kong, it was found the number of Internet surfers of job-hunting and training site jobs.gov.hk had increased dramatically from August last year, from 55,031 to 140,472. 'Jobs.gov.hk now ranks No 1 in the overall job-search category in Hong Kong, up from No 3 a year ago. While audiences to the site grew by 154 per cent, page views on the site more than tripled, to make it the top-ranking gov.hk site based on page views. Its August 2002 audience is slightly lower than its all-time high audience in May, June and July 2002,' Mr Steyn said. The jobless rate in Hong Kong has been rising since the October to December period in 2000, from 4.4 per cent to 7.6 per cent in June-August this year. The analyst expects further growth of gov.hk sites, provided the government expands its online marketing to increase awareness of the information available. 'Internet users are finding the government sites very informative, whether it is for an update on the weather, searching for a new job, planning a day or night out, renewing library books, or looking at any information on the wide range of government services,' he said.