Event offers a world of reasons why you should leave home The Convention and Exhibition Centre yesterday became a blur of colour and culture as hundreds of people gathered to enjoy dance and musical performances to mark the opening of the 18th International Travel Expo Hong Kong. Performers in traditional costume from Kenya, Taiwan, Japan and the mainland helped welcome the representatives of 500 organisations from 30 countries and regions to the four-day event. About 60 per cent of the exhibitors are from national tourism offices. The rest represent hotels and resorts, airlines and travel agents. All are eager to grab any opportunities to recover losses after last year's Sars outbreak. Norman Chan Nai-on, marketing manager of the Kenya Tourist Board, said Hong Kong became a priority after a survey revealed its residents' tastes were shifting from shopping in Europe or visiting big cities to 'going back to the wild'. 'Our early marketing survey showed Hong Kong people became more health conscious after the Sars outbreak. They found themselves enjoying fresh air and wildlife more than before,' he said. 'We also believe it is an appropriate time to promote tourism as Hong Kong has shown signs of economic recovery and people can now afford to travel overseas.' Mr Chan said last year's Sars outbreak had delayed the promotion for a few months. Carol Ho Suk-yin, from the Israeli consulate, said the country was eager to attract more Hong Kong travellers during school holidays. Huang Zhaojun, supervisor of Dongguan Sunrise Travel in Guangdong, said she was seeking alternative destinations for travellers who had already visited Hong Kong. 'People from Guangdong have travelled too much to Hong Kong and they need some new excitement,' Ms Huang said. On the other hand, Italian travel agent Gianfranco Goffi said he was trying to explore new travel destinations on the mainland. Even the Health Department had a stall, from which they handed out free condoms and reminded travellers about the need for safe sex. The colourful exhibition will be open to the public tomorrow and Sunday.