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Health & Environment

Budget 2024: Monthly fireworks may have limited effect on tourism but cause air pollution

Fireworks will be set off every month over Victoria Harbour in the coming year along with drone displays to attract visitors, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po announced in today’s budget speech. 

Fireworks over Victoria Harbour on National Day attract more than 330,000 spectators Photo by BADAJOS Julianna Jemima

Chan said last year's fireworks displayed along the waterfront in Victoria Harbour, Wan Chai and West Kowloon were all well received. "We will make full use of these valuable resources to provide a more engaging and diverse experience for the public and visitors,” he said.

"Regular events are important to tourism," said Professor Chong Tai-leung, 55, executive director of Chinese University’s Lau Chor Tak Institute of Global Economics and Finance. "Monthly fireworks displays are a great way to attract foreign visitors from far and wide."

“There are obviously more people visiting Hong Kong, especially on the second day of the Lunar New Year when people gather at Victoria Harbor to admire the fireworks,” said Peter Lo, 62, an electrical engineer, “it almost felt like the traffic flow before the pandemic.”

Peter Lo takes photographs of the chubby hearts in Central

But Lo does not believe that Hong Kong's tourism industry will bring sustained appeal. "There are only a few interesting attractions in Hong Kong, the fireworks won’t attract tourists for a second time."

 "If it happens every month, I can choose a time that suits me better and avoid the severe rush during the New Year," said Cao Kailuo, 21, a mainland college student who plans to visit Hong Kong during his vacation.

Sara Leung, chair of the Hong Kong Tourism Industry Employees General Union, told RTHK that she is not optimistic about fireworks and drone shows because many nearby areas are hosting similar events and visitors will lose the novelty. 

"In fact, the government doesn't need to spend a lot of money on fireworks displays, they usually get sponsors to host them," Chong said. "For example, last year's National Day fireworks cost about HK$18 million and were sponsored by Richard Li's Hong Kong Telecom and Fidelity Insurance."

"As a taxpayer, I have no problem with the expenditure on fireworks,” Yoyo Kong, 42,  who runs a hotpot restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui. “Because the tax revenue spent on fireworks displays occupied a very small percentage of the total. It's more about providing for my livelihood and health care," she said.

“People from Guangdong province may not come here just because of fireworks,” said Kong,  “this year’s tourism policy targets a wider range of people geographically, especially for northern cities in China.”

Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po delivers a budget plan about tourism in Legco. Photo by Elaine LAI Uen Ling

“Our country has shown great care and staunch support for Hong Kong, and recently extended the Individual Visit Scheme to Xi'an and Qingdao, ” Chan said in Budget speech. 

Both of these two cities have a population of tens of millions and many high-end consumer groups.

According to research by the official publication of Indian Chest Society, fireworks burning will release a lot of air pollutants, especially sulphur dioxide (SO2), carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO) and particulate matter (PM) as well as some metal salts which are harmful to human health in both a short and long term.

"Inhalation of harmful gases from fireworks displays by sensitive people can trigger asthma and inflammation of the respiratory tract, also even lead to lung infections," said Cheng Peiran, 48, an attending physician at the Department of Emergency Medicine, Boya Hospital in mainland.

Dr. Cheng Peiran, an attending physician in the Department of Emergency Medicine, expresses the health hazards of multiple fireworks displays

“I think the monthly fireworks activities are inappropriate and would be better replaced by drones because the air pollution after fireworks is continuous but not temporary,” said Steven Chan, an assistant environmental manager at Green Earth, “The government should pay more attention to the garbage tax which we are really expecting to.”

Hong Kong will allocate an additional HK$1,095 million to support the Tourism Commission and the Hong Kong Tourism Board in organising these and other mega events and activities.

"More mega events and activities will be organised in the future to expand the economic and publicity benefits of the events and to enhance Hong Kong's international image," said Chan.




《The Young Reporter》

The Young Reporter (TYR) started as a newspaper in 1969. Today, it is published across multiple media platforms and updated constantly to bring the latest news and analyses to its readers.


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