HK expo gets support from China group

THE China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) has given its resounding endorsement to the merger of two travel trade fairs.

It has done so by issuing scores of faxes calling on embassies and trade commissions in Beijing and Hong Kong to allocate budgets for stands at the International Travel Expo Hong Kong to be held in May.

Rory Scott, events director of the expo, said: ''This is a very big, but very welcome surprise.

''It effectively means that an organ of the Chinese state is promoting Hong Kong as the venue for a significant international exhibition.'' The faxed message explicitly states that ''it is the intention of CNTA to co-operate with the organisers to develop the [expo] into a major Asian travel show. China intends to play a full part in this endeavour''.

Mr Scott said: ''It also specifically invites attendance from inbound as well as outbound travel agents, implying that the flood of outbound tourists from China - which totalled 2.9 million in 1992 and is estimated at 4.2 million last year - will continue to grow and has official blessing.'' Mr Scott said the company set up to run the exhibition, International Travel Expo Hong Kong Limited, was jointly owned by two locally based travel exhibition companies and by two Chinese travel firms - China Travel Service (HK) and China International Travel Service (HK).

''[The expo] asked months ago for official endorsement from the CNTA, but I thought the matter had simply been forgotten,'' said Mr Scott.

''The arrival of the fax approving the venture came as a complete surprise.''