Tourism authorities spurn dai pai dong

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 June, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 June, 2005, 12:00am

Dai pai dong may serve up Hong Kong's unique flavour but tourism authorities seem concerned their poor hygiene might put off tourists.

At a meeting of tourism, public health and hygiene officials to discuss the possible policy change to preserve Hong Kong's remaining 30 dai pai dong, assistant commissioner for tourism Winifred Chung Mak Suet-mui said they were not a major tourist attraction.

'We only promote major attractions such as The Peak and Stanley. Scattered dai pai dong cannot form a reason to draw tourists.

'In some Tourism Board promotional materials written in foreign languages, 'dai pai dong' does not exist any more because they are being phased out. Most of them have poor hygiene quality and we don't want tourists to feel that Hong Kong isn't a clean place. Public health and hygiene are the most important,' Mrs Chung said.

She said the Tourism Board did recommend experiencing local eating culture such as wonton noodles and traditional milk tea.

'We understand that dai pai dong has a Hong Kong flavour but we don't promote [particular goods or services] unless it's a good-quality tourism product.'

One of those who attended the meeting, Central and Western district councillor Kam Nai-wai, who has been fighting to save Man Yuen noodle shop, said he was disappointed by Mrs Chung's comments.

'If the hygiene conditions of these dai pai dong were below standard, the government would have summoned them. But out of some 200 cases last year, 90 per cent accused the dai pai dong of blocking a road,' Mr Kam said.

He proposed an open bidding for a cooked-food hawker licence if a licensee passed away.

The government ordered Man Yuen noodle shop on Elgin Street to shut down after its licensee, Wong Kwong-hing, died on May 6. Under the law, only a spouse can inherit a fixed-pitch hawker licence if the licensee dies.

The shop's operators have filed an appeal for a licence extension.