Hong Kong Disneyland is missing its attendance target, managing director Bill Ernest admitted yesterday. Estimates by the travel trade and park management indicate the park must sell out every day until the end of September to meet its first-year target of 5.6 million visitors. 'We are slightly behind our attendance figures. But our product is very seasonal,' he told RTHK radio. 'A lot is riding on this time period.' He did not disclose the current attendance since its September opening. Three new attractions are slated to open next month, in time for the peak holiday season. Tourism Board chairman Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee described the opening of the theme park as 'the watershed of tourism development of Hong Kong' despite the problems it has faced. 'Tourism investment over the years has been [led] by Disneyland. Even Ocean Park is gearing up for the competition,' she said. 'I think the Hong Kong government is doing much more than other governments [in tourism promotion].' Yesterday, Secretary for Economic Development and Labour Stephen Ip Shu-kwan said Disneyland was part of an overall drive to promote Hong Kong tourism. 'We had the Disneyland opening last September, the largest wetland park in Asia opened last month and the Ngong Ping 360 cable line will be launched next week,' he said. 'We can see that Hong Kong tourism is very competitive.' Catherine Kwok Pui-pui, assistant general manager of travel agency La La Holiday, said Disneyland would have to depend on mainland tourists to meet its attendance targets. 'Most mainland tourists demand to go to Disneyland,' she said. 'But many locals prefer something else. They feel Disneyland is too crowded and the rides not attractive.' Ms Kwok expected a boost in new tours following the opening of new tourist attractions. 'The Wetland Park in Tin Shui Wai and the Ngong Ping 360 cable line will be the highlight in the upcoming promotions, and we expect the number of local tours to increase by 20 per cent,' she added. Mrs Chow said mainland tour guides had on the whole showed greater professionalism than their local counterparts. Although Hong Kong's tour guides were now taking classes and getting certificates, Mrs Chow said the tourism industry had not allocated enough resources to training. 'I don't think that the tour guides, who are the major connection between our visitors and community, are actually quite [up to] that standard yet,' she said. But she acknowledged it would take time for the local guides to receive sufficient training and mature as more universities offered courses in tourism. 'I hope those studying tourism will stay in the trade, and we should have higher expectations on our frontline workers,' she said.