by Bruce Myint | November 01, 2003

The antiseptic masks have come off and tourism is once again on the upswing in Hong Kong, where year-over-year arrivals in May had dropped nearly 68 percent due to the SARS outbreak.
The recovery is partly due to low airfares and hotel rates combined with a sleek global advertising campaign launched this past September.
Long renowned for its duty-free shopping and pan-Asian cuisine Hong Kong claims to have more restaurants per capita than any other city in the world the destination also has witnessed major changes among its meeting venues. Some key developments:

The 541-room Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, last September opened four new function rooms (for a total of 13 on site) and a 14-person boardroom featuring teleconferencing technology and two plasma-screen TVs.
The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong, equipped its lounge and meeting space with wireless broadband. In addition, each of the property’s 216 rooms now features high-speed Internet connections.
In mid-2005, the 118-room Landmark Mandarin Oriental will open in the heart of Hong Kong’s fashion and shopping districts.
The new Le Meridien Cyberport will open this spring in Telegraph Bay (a 15-minute drive from Central). The 173-room hotel  will feature high-tech meetings facilities and views of the South China Sea.

Kowloon Peninsula
The 700-room Kowloon Shangri-La recently completed propertywide renovations, including new dining options, in-room broadband access and a new function room.
The 514-room InterContinental Hong Kong recently unveiled a new lobby, and a full-service spa was added to the hotel’s third floor. Last month, the property opened a new eatery: Spoon by Alain Ducasse.
The Great Eagle Hotel has been renamed the Langham Hotel, Hong Kong. The 487-room property offers a 5,040-square-foot ballroom and four meeting rooms.
The 780-room Sheraton Hong Kong & Towers is undergoing a $45 million renovation by adding new guest room furnishings and high-speed Internet access.

Lantau Island
Hong Kong Disneyland
, China’s first theme park, broke ground in January. The $3.2 billion resort, a joint venture between Disney and the Chinese government, will stretch over 310 acres on North Lantau Island. Scheduled for completion in 2006, the theme park will include retail stores, restaurants and two hotels with a total of 2,100 rooms.
Hong Kong will construct a new exhibition center by 2005 in an attempt to capture the region’s growing exhibition market. The new International Exhibition Centre at the Hong Kong International Airport will feature 710,400 square feet of exhibition space.

Wan Chai
The Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
last year completed a $45 million renovation to its two theaters, main hall and foyer. The work also saw both a new banquet room and a new restaurant added to the venue. More recently, retractable seats were installed in one of the facility’s halls, enabling entire seating sections to be rapidly removed.