Hong Kong will be experiencing a hospitality industry boom this year with 22 hotels opening. The hotels scheduled to open include the Harbourfront Horizon in Hung Hom and L'hotel Nina in Tsuen Wan, each with about 1,600 rooms and several boutique hotels. Eight hotels opened last year. Hotel owners and operators say the new openings, plus extensions at existing hotels, will create about 3,700 extra rooms and generate demand for 2,500 extra staff at all levels of the industry. This means the number of hotel rooms will have increased by more than 35 per cent since 2003, when the mainland individual traveller scheme was introduced. The Hong Kong Tourism Board has lowered its expectations for the number of visitors to 26.4 million this year after failing to meet its 27 million target for last year. The revised target means a rise of 4.6 per cent following the 8.4 per cent increase achieved last year. Michael Li Hon-shing, executive director of the Federation of Hong Kong Hotel Owners, said: 'Some developers and owners predicted that there would be too many medium-class hotels in Hong Kong, so in 2005 and 2006 we witnessed a number of hotels being changed to office developments. 'But we are now quite optimistic about visitors from all markets, including the mainland, providing Hong Kong can manage and maintain its competitiveness and attractiveness as a tourist destination,' he said. 'About 60 per cent of the arriving guests stay in hotels. We can see the hotel occupancy rate is staying at the level of 85 to 87 per cent, which shows the situation is quite healthy.' James Lu Shien-hwai, executive director of the Hong Kong Hotels' Association, said: 'The hotel industry is going to need an extra 2,500 staff to work in the new hotels coming on stream. Some of these new positions will be filled by the 1,000 new graduates and diplomates coming out of our hotel and catering schools. 'We expect to fill the other jobs with experienced employees from related sectors such as the catering industry and even fresh graduates of related disciplines such as business and management. 'Starting salaries went up 10 per cent in 2006 and this year I think that salaries will be 3 to 5 per cent higher across the board, including graduate salaries.' Tony Tse, programme director (industry partnerships) with Polytechnic University's School of Hotel and Tourism Management, said factors contributing to 'very strong demand' for qualified hotel staff in Hong Kong included the casino hotel boom in Macau and the expansion of Hong Kong-based hotel chains on the mainland and across the Asia-Pacific region, which were inducing some existing managers to leave.