Hong Kong has been voted by 15,000 newspaper readers in Britain as their favourite overseas city. The former British colony came third last year but rose to the top spot this year in the Guardian Unlimited Travel Awards, jointly organised by The Guardian and The Observer, two of the leading upmarket national newspapers in Britain. The Hong Kong Tourism Board welcomed the accolade yesterday, saying Britain is a key long-haul market for the city and the biggest single source of European visitors. Sydney won second place, the same position as last year. Melbourne rose from last year's 18th to third this year. No other Asian city is in the top 20, except Bangkok, which came 15th. Seville, in southern Spain, voted fifth, is the top-ranked European city, followed by Venice at sixth. The mainland was only voted 14th in the favourite long-haul country category, in which New Zealand came first, followed by Japan and the Maldives. A spokeswoman for the Hong Kong Tourism Board said the poll showed Hong Kong remained an attractive city to overseas tourists. Total arrivals from Britain reached a new high of almost 465,000 last year, with a further increase of 8 per cent in the first eight months of this year. 'We shall certainly continue promoting Hong Kong as a pluralistic city to long-haul tourists. Many like eco-tourism and perhaps we may do more to promote this,' the board spokeswoman said. Writer and current-affairs commentator Chip Tsao said more middle-class Britons were venturing far from Europe to explore the Far East on holidays. 'They get richer and move further. Hong Kong is a natural destination in the Far East for them,' said Tsao, who has worked for the BBC in London.