DEVELOPMENT

Hong Kong tourist industry representatives cry foul over scrapping of Tsim Sha Tsui promenade revamp

They say the Avenue of Stars and nearby areas need revitalisation to attract tourists once again

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 February, 2016, 6:51pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 February, 2016, 6:51pm

Tourism industry representatives said they were disappointed at the government’s decision to scrap a plan to develop an extension to the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade, noting that they were counting on a more ambitious revamp of the Avenue of Stars to reinvigorate its fading attractiveness.

More recreational facilities such as cafes, benches and galleries should be built along the 12-year-old waterfront site amid concern that space is not being optimised, said Legislative Council tourism representative Yiu Si-wing.

READ MORE: Controversial Avenue of Stars upgrade scrapped but Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront to remain closed

The remarks were made after the Leisure and Cultural Services Department announced on Wednesday that a proposal to transform the promenade into a dining, film and performance boulevard was scrapped following a public backlash, while the Avenue of Stars would still face closure for up to three years.

“There is much empty space out there where cafes, galleries or even benches could have been brought in to offer more leisure and cultural services ,” said Yiu. “Over the years we’ve noticed some negative feedback on the Avenue of Stars from our tourists, and that is not groundless.”

The avenue, under New World’s management since it opened in 2004, used to be a must-go destination for international visitors , but US broadcaster CNN in 2011 ranked it as the world’s second worst “tourist trap” that was “heavily advertised” but turned out to be a “bland misrepresentation” with “a lack of comfortable resting areas”.

“Honestly it feels a bit dull walking along the avenue and taking photos,” said university student He Yue, 23, who is from Shanghai. “I love the view of Victoria Habour, and it would be great if there was a small cafe nearby where I could enjoy the scenery in peace.”

Under the original plan, a food hub, film gallery and performance venue would have been built on the extended section, which is a much quieter area. Dining facilities will be added in Salisbury Garden, outside the Museum of Art.

READ MORE: Lights out for Avenue of Stars as iconic Hong Kong site set to shut down for three years despite public outcry

Travel Industry Council executive director Joseph Tung Yao-chung said he previously expected the Avenue of Stars to undergo a big upgrade after a more ambitious revamp was rolled out, “but today we have to regretfully accept the government’s conservative proposal”.

“It has been our consideration for years to revitalise this site, as we think more facilities, particularly a new film gallery, would boost people’s appetite,” Tung said.

“We wish to see more Hong Kong film elements, more handprints of stars for example to be added,”said Michelle Tsang, chief executive of the Hong Kong Film Awards Association, which was a key backer of the avenue . “But we have seen some difficulties such as a lack of space.”

However, engineer Albert Lai Kwong-tak of the Professional Commons said more consultation among various parties on the redesign was needed and the government should give greater priority to the local community in taking care of the area.

The revitalisation of the Avenue of Stars would take place after the renovation of a nearby bridge terrace was completed in early 2018, and the project would be wrapped up in the fourth quarter of the same year, a government spokesman said.