SCMP, May 5, 2003 By Cheung Chi-fai A TOURISM Commission report has come up with recommendations to boost tourism in the northern New Territories, which attracts just one in five tourists to Hong Kong. The study focuses on promoting the region's natural beauty and cultural heritage. Among the proposals is building a cruise terminal in Tolo Harbour, relaxing restrictions on entry to the closed border area and tourism co-operation with Shenzhen. The report was commissioned by the Tourism Commission and conducted by the Polytechnic University's tourism and hotel management department. The report says the northern New Territories are not seen as a popular tourist destination because transport is poor, facilities for visitors are lacking and part of the area falls inside the restricted border area. The report said few visitors to Hong Kong explored its natural attractions. Those who did mainly went on trips to see white dolphins. To turn the area into a major drawcard, the report calls for relaxation of border controls and entry rules in the border area and the setting up of a government taskforce on tourism planning. The report says the feasibility of building a second cruise terminal near the Science Park in Tolo Harbour should also be studied. A cruise terminal would complement the proposed resort for Wu Kai Sha. To fully exploit the tourism potential of the outlying islands, it is proposed that attractions be developed on Kat O and Ap Chau islands to cater for day tours. At the same time, Kat O could serve as a platform for tourism activities straddling the Shenzhen-Hong Kong border, the report says, while noting that border controls would need to be changed to facilitate the flow of passengers. There has been debate in the past few months about how Hong Kong might work with Shenzhen to promote tourism, and the Hong Kong Tourism Board will soon start discussion with mainland authorities on improving co-operation. The report also suggests running guided cycling tours to traditional villages and scenic spots along the border and building a cycle path from Shataukok to the Mai Po wetland. The report identifies Lai Chi Wo and Sam A Tsuen, two well-preserved traditional villages, as key sites for developing cultural heritage and nature tours. And it says farming using traditional methods, such as paddy-field cultivation and tea plantations, could attract visitors to Luk Keng. The report said any development must be coupled with sufficient conservation measures for the villages. Shataukok, which is already a border checkpoint, should become a key transit point for visits to tourist attractions. Michael Wu Siu-ieng, chairman of the Hong Kong Association of Travel Agents, welcomed the proposals to boost tourism in the northern New Territories. 'There have been calls for a long time to develop more tourism spots in the city to attract both local and overseas tourists. I believe it is the right way to go,' he said. The Tourism Commission will consult district councillors and legislators after two weeks about the report's recommendations. *For more stories, read the main news section of the South China Morning Post. Discussion points ? Should the government intervene in the ? Pick a place in your school district or in Hong Kong to promote to tourists. Why do you think it is worth visiting? How special is it? ? Imagine you are taking an expatriate friend on a cycling tour at Mai Po. Find out if you need any special permits. If yes, which authority should you contact? What are the procedures? Design your itinerary for the day. Look up more information about Mai Po. What should you pay attention to before going on a cycling tour?