Speech by Mr Douglas Gautier (Executive Director of Hong Kong Arts Festival Society Ltd) at the Beijing Press Conference on 15 Dec

December 15th, 2003

Ladies & Gentlemen,

Welcome to this press briefing to launch the 32nd Hong Kong Arts Festival in Beijing and to announce a special tour package to the Festival.

We are very honoured to be in Beijing with our colleagues from the Hong Kong Tourism Board and the Hong Kong travel industry, and we thank you so much for joining us today.

Our objective is to tell you something about the Hong Kong Arts Festival and to introduce a great Festival travel offer to you and your readers.

Let us give you a little background on the Festival itself - it is 32 years old and its first Director was the Director of the world renowned Edinburgh Festival, since then it has gained a reputation as a leading international Festival.

Every year during February and March the Hong Kong Arts Festival presents a showcase of the best international, regional and Hong Kong artists over a four week period. This programme always includes a wide range of opera, classical music, dance, theatre, jazz and world music. It well reflects the cosmopolitan nature of Hong Kong and its status as an international city.

We have a very exciting programme for 2004, we will offer a total of 111 performances with 36 performing groups - 24 overseas/2 Chinese mainland/10 Hong Kong - with three exhibitions, and an important extra - our inclusive "Festival Plus" programme of talks, workshops, "meet-the-artists" sessions. Also for the first time we will present a fabulous outdoor programme on Hong Kong's beautiful harbour front open to all - free of charge during the opening "weekend" of the Festival.

In 2004 you will be able to experience such great artists as the Komische Opera from Berlin, Zurich Ballet, the London Symphony Orchestra, Bobby McFerrin, Jan Garbarek, Kyung-Wha Chung and the Prague Chamber Orchestra and many more. There is something at the Festival for all tastes as you will see from our video tape that we will present shortly.

In launching our Festival in the Chinese mainland, we are naturally very keen to have friends from Beijing come and join us in Hong Kong to share the excitement. So we are very pleased that our colleagues from Dragonair/Mandarin Oriental and Marco Polo Hotel Groups are able to offer such a great package to attract patrons in Beijing to travel to Hong Kong for the Arts Festival. Also included in this package is a very attractive discount deal on Festival tickets - available exclusively for Beijing residents who book this package.

In addition, we recommend you take a look at our web site where we now have a section especially dedicated for friends from the Chinese Mainland who are interested in our Festival and who would like to come to Hong Kong to attend our performances.

May I suggest that we now take a look at a video of our 2004 programmes and following that we will be happy to answer any questions you have about the Festival or the travel packages.


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