HONG KONG is facing the largest visitor invasion in its history, Hong Kong Hotels Association executive director Manuel Woo said. Mr Woo said hotels need to be ready to cope with the expected influx by providing specific tourist and hotel services to visitors from the mainland. His comments come in the wake of comments from China's National Tourism Administration director Yang Liuyin, who warned such an influx should not be allowed to get out of control, because it requires large amounts of hard currency. Mr Yang said the number of mainland Chinese leaving on holiday grew by 22.9 per cent to 1.46 million last year. Analysts said Mr Yang's comments could indicate that China would tighten the issue of travel visas. A higher standard of living has made overseas travel accessible, especially for those in the coastal areas and large cities, where personal income is relatively high and people can afford international fares. Mr Yang said a large proportion of people were travelling on business at public expense, the most common destination being neighbouring countries. In spite of the austerity campaign limiting company sponsored travel, Hong Kong and countries in the region anticipate a continuous rise in visitor traffic from China. Mr Woo advised hoteliers to train front-office staff to speak Mandarin to cope with the expected influx of visitors. Hotels ought to be able to cope with some of the 28 key dialects spoken in China, he said. He said all directional information should be published in Chinese. He also said the use of modern, Western facilities, such as new bathroom fittings should be carefully explained. Many have already realised the potential of China's expanding tourist trade. The Singapore Tourist Promotion Board launched a campaign in Guangzhou in December 1992. It also held a cuisine exhibition in Beijing. At the same time, Thailand said it would guarantee the interests of Chinese tourists and address their safety concerns, spurred by a fatal incident toward the end of last year. A number of ethnic Chinese were robbed and killed in Bangkok by a gang of rogue police. Hong Kong received 1.7 million mainland visitors last year, representing a 50 per cent increase from 1992. Thailand and Singapore attracted 261,000 and 225,000, respectively, while Malaysia had only 81,000 visitors. China is enjoying an influx of tourists, mostly from countries in the region.