Hong Kong tour operators are not interested in participating in China's inbound tour market despite a move by the mainland authorities to open up the sector to overseas companies. 'It's not attractive at all,'' said Jackie Wong See-sum, the chairman of Hong Thai Citizens Travel. 'What we want is for the mainland to open the outbound market for foreign participation.'' Hong Thai is among Hong Kong firms which have complained about access to the most lucrative part of China's tourist industry. Mr Wong said foreign travel operators had been urging China to open up its outbound tour market for more than 10 years, but no progress had been made. He was speaking after the China National Tourism Administration and the Ministry of Commerce announced yesterday that overseas companies would be allowed to open wholly owned or majority-owned travel agencies in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Xian from next month. However, overseas companies which want to set up wholly owned agencies will be required to have annual sales of US$500 million while those which want to set up majority-owned agencies must have $40 million sales. Hong Thai, which has established six joint-venture agencies in China since 1993, does not expect the authorities to open the outbound market to foreign operators in the medium term. 'They still want to protect the domestic industry,'' Mr Wong said. Travel Industry Council (TIC) executive director Joseph Tung Yao-chung said members wanted to sell overseas package tours to mainlanders instead of participating in the domestic tour market. Mr Tung said international companies might not be interested in setting up wholly owned agencies as they were unfamiliar with the market. TIC, which represents more than 1,300 Hong Kong travel agencies, would continue to lobby mainland tourism authorities to speed up the opening of the outbound market, he said.