Hong Kong should join hands with the Pearl River Delta region to promote Mirs Bay as an eco-tourism area, an influential think-tank suggested yesterday. Cheng Yiu-tong, chairman of the Hong Kong-China Relations Strategic Development Research Fund, said Hong Kong risked lagging behind other cities. Mr Cheng, who is also an Executive Council member, said Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Zhuhai had united to promote tourism in the Pearl River Delta region, without incorporating Hong Kong into the plan. 'If we don't initiate to join hands with them, Hong Kong will be left behind,' Mr Cheng said. 'Hong Kong and the mainland are complementary to each other. We could help lure foreign tourists to the area.' The plan says Shenzhen's resort area in Mirs Bay and the north-eastern part of Hong Kong, which has many coral reefs, should be linked by an island-hopping ferry line to give tourists easy access. Other tourism spots on the Shenzhen side of the area include the Minsk Aircraft Carrier World and Chung Ying Street, which straddles the Hong Kong-mainland border at Sha Tau Kwok. Hong Kong-side spots include Double Haven, Crooked Harbour, Tolo Harbour and Tai Po. The think-tank also suggested linking the Dai Mei Sha resort area in Shenzhen and Shap Sze Heung in Tai Po with a high-speed boat service. Transport could be improved by extending the Ma On Shan railway line, which will be completed in 2004, to Shap Sze Heung. Mr Cheng said the State Council in 1982 approved the establishment of an immigration control point at Dai Mei Sha but it had not been put in place. Richard Yu Lap-kee, a partner of a consultant firm commissioned by the think-tank to conduct the study, said Hong Kong should use its marine park to lure foreign tourists. 'Most tourists only know that Hong Kong is a densely populated city. We should introduce them to the beautiful marine park with its coral reef. The scene is comparable to the Thai resort area of Phuket,' he said. Mr Yu said the plan could attract the mainland's growing middle class and provide great business opportunities for Hong Kong. Tourism Board chairwoman Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee welcomed the plan but added: 'We need the business sectors to operate the routes. It depends on whether any business groups will invest in it.' A Tourism Commission spokeswoman said it welcomed any proposals that would enhance the flow of people and contribute to the development of tourism in the mainland, Pearl River Delta region and Hong Kong. Tourism brought in $62.2 billion for Hong Kong last year.