Updated at 6.39pm: Secretary for Economic Development and Labour Stephen Ip Shu-kwan on Tuesday was upbeat about the future of Hong Kong's food and hospitality industry. He was speaking at the opening ceremony of the 11th Asian International Exhibition of Food and Drink, Hotel, Restaurant and Foodservice Equipment, Supplies and Services (HOFEX). Mr Ip noted that the industry contributed a large amount of income to Hong Kong's economy. 'Taking a closer look at the food and hospitality industries in Hong Kong, our restaurants and hotels contributed over $27 billion towards our total gross domestic product (GDP) in 2003,' he said. Mr Ip said restaurants, fast food shops and hotels accounted for over eight per cent of Hong Kong's total workforce at the end of 2004. He predicted the growth in the two industries would continue as more visitors were expected to come to the city in the coming months. 'In 2004, we received over 21 million visitors who spent over $20 billion on meals and hotel accommodation. In the coming months, we envisage a number of exciting developments in our tourism industry as major tourist attractions will come on stream,' he said. Mr Ip said family and business visitors would be the two most prospective groups of visitors. 'According to information from the Hong Kong Tourism Board, last year, around 36 per cent of visitors were family visitors but only 24 per cent of them travelled with their children. For mainland visitors, 46 per cent were family travellers with 22 per cent bringing along their children,' he explained. 'We believe that this group of visitors offers considerable growth potential, especially with the opening of major tourism projects in the next few years.' 'In 2004, some 25 per cent of overnight visitors were business travellers and they spent on average over 20 per cent more than other visitors,' he said. Mr Ip also said the Tourism Board planned to launch a marketing campaign to promote Hong Kong internationally.