But he says the chamber and Harbour Fest deserve support Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen said yesterday he was disappointed by poor Harbour Fest ticket sales, blaming the problem on AmCham's 'layman' status as a concert organiser. However, rather than criticism, the American Chamber of Commerce deserved the public's support for its efforts, he added. 'Obviously, there has been a lot of confusion and criticism over the handling of Harbour Fest,' Mr Tang said. 'For [last night's] Jose Carreras show only about half the tickets had been sold, which I am not too pleased about.' Harbour Fest has been mired in controversy, with the series of concerts designed to help Hong Kong bounce back from Sars expected to lose up to $100 million of taxpayers' money, depending on sales. Organisers had earlier said that selling 50 per cent of seats would result in a loss of $80 million. The shows were launched on Friday night by Prince, who played to a near-capacity audience at the Tamar site - but only after more than 1,000 seats had been removed from the arena, admitted James Thompson, chairman of AmCham. The next concert, for British singer Craig David on Saturday night, only appeared to be 30 per cent full. Mr Tang said AmCham was a business association and might not have had much experience in putting together such an event. 'Amcham is a layman in organising shows. It has been a big challenge for the chamber,' he said, 'Rather than criticism, now is the time to give it support and hope that we can sell more tickets.' The government's investment promotion arm, InvestHK, is picking up the bill out of its $1 billion war chest which was created to help rebuild Hong Kong's image after Sars outbreak. AmCham failed to respond to the Post's inquiries yesterday. But a spokeswoman for Harbour Fest, Catherine Cheung, said they were not able to release official attendance figures at this stage. She said the attendance for the first two shows was 'satisfactory', adding that about 1,000 free tickets had been given to medical workers. However, Ms Cheung refused to say how many tickets had been given away in total, only saying it was a 'limited number'. 'Some free tickets are provided to our sponsors while some promotional tickets are distributed by media partners,' Ms Cheung said. She said the organisers would submit an auditing report to the government two or three months after the conclusion of the Harbour Fest event. The Rolling Stones deliver the last show on November 9. Legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing said AmCham might have to bear some financial responsibility for the extravaganza which it volunteered to arrange. 'The government should consider seeking compensation from the chamber if it fails to deliver,' she said.