The Hong Kong Tourism Board's "Old Town Central" yesterday presented the five walking routes newly designed to highlight historical and cultural landmarks in one of the city's oldest neighborhoods.
Apart from promoting in-depth guided tours run by trade partners, the board will also print 280,000 guidebooks for those who prefer a self-guided adventure. The five walking routes showcase Hong Kong's uniqueness and diversity in heritage, food, arts and hidden treasures. Visitors can explore the history-steeped area outlined by Wyndham Street, Caine Road, Possession Street and Queen's Road Central.
The arts walking route highlights Hollywood Road - one of the first roads built in the colonial era - lined with galleries and antique shops of ancient and contemporary items. A different form of creativity can be seen expressed in the form of graffiti on the walls of many little alleys off the streets.
Antique dealer Mido Dhillon, who has a shop in the area, said it was sad to see small stores from the colonial era disappear.
The Central area has been picked due to its "contrasting attributes," Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said at the launch ceremony yesterday. "It is where the old co-exist, blend and collide harmoniously with the new," he said.
The government had been working to "revitalize" the district over the years. "[The conservation work] provided a good opportunity to rejuvenate the dynamic tourism of the area," Cheung said.
Tourism board chairman Peter Lam Kin-ngok said Central is an important landmark in the development of Hong Kong history. "We want to promote the rich elements of Central and Sheung Wan, hoping to bring more visitors to explore this dynamic district."
March saw an 8.8 percent increase in the number of tourists visiting Hong Kong, Lam said. More of them are staying overnight as well, with a 10 percent rise.
The campaign's HK$7.8 million budget will cover the costs of the launch ceremony, promotion materials and printing of leaflets.
The board plans to apply the concept in other districts to encourage visitors to explore local cultures.