HONG KONG, June 14 (Xinhua) -- The 26th International Travel Expo (ITE) Hong Kong opened Thursday at the Convention and Exhibition Center with over 600 exhibitors attending the four- day event.
The ITE is held concurrently with the seventh MICE Travel Expo, an exhibition for tours of Meeting, Incentive, Conference and Exhibition.
Featuring around 30 official pavilions and exhibitors from 54 countries and regions, the ITE and MICE 2012 maintains a highly international profile of exhibitors, said the organizer, TKS Exhibition Services Ltd in a statement.
Among the 50 exhibiting destinations, 42 percent are from Asia, 37 percent from Europe, North and South America, 15 percent from the Middle East and Africa and six percent from island paradises in the Pacific and India Ocean.
Some 80 percent of the exhibitors, including tourism boards, hotels, airlines, cruise and golf clubs etc, are from abroad, according to the statistics provided by the organizer.
Reflecting trend that travel fast becoming part of life style, the ITE and MICE highlights themes like cruise, wellness and medical tourism, and new themes this year include honeymooning and overseas wedding, travel photography, and study tour.
"The Expo is moving with the times," said John Tsang, financial secretary of the city government while attending the opening ceremony. New themes this year include weddings and honeymooning, wellness and health travel, study tours and travel photography.
Tsang added that despite the difficult economic environment globally, Hong Kong's tourism-related business generated great value in the past years. "Currently around 220,000 people, or over six percent of Hong Kong's workforce, are employed by the travel industry."
In 2011, visitors spent an estimated 263 billion HK dollars ( about 33.89 billion U.S. dollars) in Hong Kong, with a year-on- year increase of 24 percent.
ITE and MICE this year is expected to draw 12,000 professional visitors and some 70,000 visitors in the public days starting from Saturday. (1 U.S. dollar is equivalent to 7.76 HK dollars)