Other ceremonies are planned after objections were raised Hoteliers and travel industry representatives have dropped plans for an 'unmasking' day after concerns were raised about the appropriateness of a mass burning of surgical masks. The original plans called for the destruction of one million face masks following the lifting of World Health Organisation's travel advisory on Hong Kong to demonstrate that the city had recovered from severe acute respiratory syndrome, said Franz Donhauser, general manager of Island Shangri-La, who thought up the idea. However, representatives from both the tourism and hotel industry opposed the plan. Some of the strongest oppositions came from the Hong Kong Tourism Board, whose executives said face masks continued to be one of the ways to prevent the spread of Sars. 'We won't support this unmasking event,' said board spokeswoman Bonnie Ngan Suet-fong. 'Wearing of the face mask is a personal decision ... We are getting feedback that face masks provide peace of mind to visitors and for people in general.' The Tourism Board and Hong Kong Hotels Association are working with the government to plan other celebration events after the WHO removes the travel advisory. Mark Lettenbichler, vice-president and area general manager of the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong and chairman of the hotels association, said it was not for the association to decide when people could remove their masks. 'It's nothing we wish to partake at this time,' he said, referring to the unmasking event. 'It is difficult for our association. We are not medical professionals. We think we should let the professionals let us know when that day may be.' The government has given certain guidelines for the public and different industries for the wearing of face masks. However, these advisories are not mandatory. Most hotels and restaurants, on their own initiative, started having all their employees wear masks in early April, during the height of the Sars outbreak. This was to reassure the public as much as to serve health needs. Lately, managers of these businesses have relaxed these rules. The Mandarin Oriental and Excelsior hotels now only require kitchen, cleaning and some waiting staff to wear protective gear. Managers at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, which owns both hotels, decided to change the policies after seeing the number of new Sars cases dropping. 'When the Sars outbreak first began the public felt more comfortable seeing everybody wearing face masks,' said Sally deSouza, spokeswoman for Mandarin Oriental. 'But that has declined and we feel that the situation is stabilising. It's time to get back to some sort of a normal life style.'