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Old July 23rd, 2009, 11:10 AM   #1
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HONG KONG | Tai O Fishing Village Heritage and Tourism Projects

Tai O nets a tourism-boosting facelift
The Standard
Thursday, July 23, 2009

The fishing village of Tai O on Lantau is to get a facelift under the government's beautification and revitalization initiatives.

The move will help sustain the economy, culture and eco-tourism of the rural fishing village, Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet- ngor said.

Projects include two folklore museums - the Tai O Experience Centre and the Stilted House Experience Centre.

It is hoped they will attract both local and overseas visitors keen to learn the history of Tai O and its traditional salt industry. Other new elements include a hand-pulled ferry and a free MP3 tour guide along nearby nature trails.

But the government will start with simple works to improve the physical outlay of the village.

These will include changing its information and directional signs, as well as improving the gardens at Yeung Hau Temple and Kwan Tai Temple, its two major landmarks. Other improvement works include new paving, tree planting and landscaping of the promenade and gardens.

The plans will be discussed at the Legislative Council development panel meeting on Tuesday.

Bidding for the renovation works for the Old Tai O Police Station, which will cost HK$66.7 million, will soon begin, with a targeted completion date of mid-2011.

It had already been agreed to turn the station into a boutique hotel.

But Lam said that the government is still looking for an organization which can revitalize the whole district because the boutique hotel alone is hardly enough to achieve the revitalization purpose.

The government is also keen on improving Mong Kok.

The six improvement projects in the district are Tung Choi Street Streetscape Improvement Project, Nullah Road Greening Project, Lai Chi Kok Road Greening Project, Nullah Road Linkage Improvement Project, Prince Edward Road West Linkage Improvement Project and Soy Street Destination Project.

The Development Bureau has also invited the Urban Renewal Authority to coordinate and take up some of these projects.
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Old July 24th, 2009, 08:10 PM   #2
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Old July 25th, 2009, 07:08 AM   #3
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Tai O to see old ferries return for nature trail
23 July 2009
South China Morning Post

Hand-pulled ferries will make a comeback in Tai O under a revitalisation scheme.

The small boats, which carried people around the fishing village for years, disappeared in 1996 after two footbridges were built across a channel, making it easier to get around.

This time the boats will take visitors on a nature trail to explore mangroves, wetland and woodland areas, and on a heritage trail. An MP3 audio guide will be provided to visitors to learn about the village's history.

Other plans include a folklore museum to be housed in rebuilt stilt houses, a salt-pan demonstration area, a youth hostel in a converted public housing block and a wilderness campsite.

Some of these projects will be managed by one non-government agent, Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said yesterday.

"These facilities are less conventional and do not actually fall under a particular government department's work profile."

They might not be very profitable and the initial investment could be huge, she said, adding that public funds would be provided to sustain some projects. A study was being conducted into financial models.

It would be a challenge to get a capable agency, Mrs Lam said, because it would be required to manage and promote the venues.

Some of the ideas for Tai O's revitalisation came from the public and professionals in an open design competition last year, and were incorporated into a concept plan by a consultant. The Islands District Council, the Tai O rural committee and concern groups had been consulted, Mrs Lam said. The plans involved the three themes of local connectivity, heritage and culture, and nature.

While the projects are still at the planning stage, some infrastructure projects will begin soon. They include an entrance plaza at the existing bus terminal, with new paving, trees and jetties.

Separately, Mrs Lam said seven district councils would each be supplied with HK$300,000 and a consultant to study urban renewal strategy for their districts, to decide which areas or streets should be redeveloped or retained. Central and Western district, Wan Chai, Yau Ma Tei, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon City, Kwun Tong and Tsuen Wan, which are the action areas of the Urban Renewal Authority, would receive the aid.
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Old July 29th, 2009, 07:03 PM   #4
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Tai O group says 'revitalisation' plan would harm wetlands
29 July 2009
South China Morning Post

A group of Tai O residents have called for a halt to plans to give the fishing town a facelift, saying the work would damage mangrove wetlands and fail to address local needs.

The group said a piece of reed bed had already been damaged by dumping activities by unknown parties over the past few years.

The Leung Uk reed bed, which in the plan would become a scenic spot with boardwalks and viewing decks, was originally proposed by the government for zoning as a conservation area in 2002. But the zoning was shelved and Tai O is not protected by a statutory zoning plan governing land use.

Eddie Tse Sai-kit, a member of the Association for Tai O Environment and Development, said: "The talk of extra facilities and scenic spots is meaningless when you fail even to conserve what already exists."

Mr Tse said he was worried that human activity on the proposed wilderness campsite, next to the reed bed and mangrove, would disturb birds.

His group also pointed to a proposed salt pan demonstration area in another mangrove area. Fellow member Ho Pui-han said: "The salt pan is a thing of the past. Recreating it in the middle of the mangroves would only harm the plants."

The group said it did not see how the plan would address Tai O's problems, such as poor drainage for stilt houses, inconvenient transport, and a lack of jobs and amenities.

Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan said: "I have no confidence in the so-called revitalisation plan, given past measures have proved a failure."

She referred to a large anchorage built a few years ago to accommodate about 100 boats but used by only a few.

Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said at a Legco development panel meeting that the facelift, backed by the rural committee, was to conserve and not develop Tai O.

Chow Man-tat, deputy project manager for the Civil Engineering and Development Department, said an ecological impact study was still being conducted. "Whether we will create the salt pan area and bird-watching hides will depend on the result."
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Old July 30th, 2009, 06:33 PM   #5
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Opinion : What do you think of plans to revitalise Tai O?
South China Morning Post
29 July 2009

I am writing concerning the Tai O revitalisation plans.

It is Hong Kong's oldest fishing village. Its distinctive stilt houses along the 15-metre-wide Tai O creek have led to it being called the "Oriental Venice".

However, as its reputation spreads and it becomes more popular, an increasing number of Hongkongers are visiting to eat seafood and buy dried sea products and the environment in the village has deteriorated.

The mudflat along the creek was a habitat for fiddler crabs. Now all I see is litter.

Of course, it is possible that much of this garbage is domestic refuse from the inhabitants of the stilt homes. For example, you see a lot of disused planks.

I believe that before any of the planned initiatives are implemented, such as nature trails along the wetlands and bringing back the rope ferry, the environment should be cleaned up.

I hope that part of the disused salt pans will be given a new lease of life with demonstrations for tourists.

Chan Wai-yu, Tsuen Wan

One of the key revitalisation features of Tai O will be the proposal to bring the hand-pulled punt back into service ("Last operator happy hand-pulled Tai O ferry may return to service", July 25).

Although this traditional ferry service is unique to Tai O, it is highly inefficient and would be too labour intensive.

Although we want to be able to keep certain features of the past so that Hong Kong's heritage can be preserved, should we revive something like this ferry?

Humans see progress as being the invention of machinery that reduces people's workload, so why would we take a backward step?

If officials are serious about bringing this service back and offering visitors a unique Tai O experience, they must first acknowledge that it will need to be funded by the government and hence taxpayers as there is no way that it can be profitable. I do not want to read a report that the government tells us that its plan for bringing back the ferry is to be scrapped because no one is willing to tender for the service.

We should ask now if taxpayers are willing to fund a revived ferry service.

H. C. Bee, Kowloon Tong
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Old July 30th, 2009, 09:03 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shovon View Post
Looks really different. House are old fashionable but nice. How much cost for one week. Can you describe about total cost of 7 days tour?
-------------------------------
Ashley Madison
Probably worth a day trip from the city only. Tai O is actually very small. You can catch a bus from Tung Chung MTR station.
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Old August 10th, 2009, 07:04 PM   #7
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By kit_z4 from dchome :





















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Old August 11th, 2009, 12:05 PM   #8
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The government is also keen on improving Mong Kok.
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Old August 24th, 2009, 03:51 PM   #9
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Old September 2nd, 2009, 04:40 AM   #10
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Opinion : What do you think of plans to revitalise Tai O?
5 August 2009
South China Morning Post

Some residents of Tai O have objected to the proposed conservation plan by the government to turn Tai O into the latest tourist spot of Hong Kong ("Tai O group says 'revitalisation' plan would harm wetlands", July 29).

Concerns have been raised about whether some proposed initiatives will ensure the conservation of the existing environment before extra facilities and scenic spots are added.

Some residents also do not feel it is appropriate for facilities to be introduced such as a salt pan demonstration and wilderness campsite, feeling that they would disturb the existing ecological balance.

The government has responded by saying that it will undertake an ecological impact study to look at the implications of any developments.

The fact is that such studies do not necessarily yield conclusive results. The bottom line is that there appears to be a conflict between conservation and development needs.

Those individuals who are opposed to proposals for change must appreciate that some form of development is the only way forward for the community.

One thing the government must do is appoint the best designers, professionals who are able to strike the right balance.

H. C. Bee, Kowloon Tong
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Old September 8th, 2009, 06:14 PM   #11
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By JC1211 from dchome :







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Old November 4th, 2009, 05:26 PM   #12
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4 festivals proposed to be protected as national heritage
29 September 2009
SCMP

The Hong Kong government will recommend four local traditions to the Ministry of Culture for the status of national intangible cultural heritage.

The Cheung Chau Jiao Festival (more commonly known as the Bun Festival), the dragon boat parade of Tai O, the Tai Hang fire dragon dance and the Chiu Chow ghost festival have been selected from 34 traditions after a three-year study and consultation with a panel of five historians. They are considered to have historical and cultural value and to illustrate the creativity of Chinese culture.

"They have been conserved from generation to generation in Hong Kong for more than 100 years," Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing said yesterday. "They are well recognised by the general public."

Detailed studies and records by scholars were available for preparation of application papers, he said.

This is the first time the city has made its own recommendation to the ministry. In 2006, the governments of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau jointly applied successfully for Cantonese opera and herbal teas to be added to the list.

In 2006 and 2008, a total of 1,028 traditions from different parts of China were inscribed on the national list. The result for the third batch is expected to be announced in June next year. The compilation of a cultural heritage list and preservation of the items on it is a requirement under a convention of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).

Among the four local traditions, the Cheung Chau Jiao Festival is still vigorously celebrated and televised every year. It originated from a plague in the late Qing dynasty (1644-1911) that caused residents to create a parade with deity statues, followed by villagers scrambling up bamboo towers to snatch buns attached to them to express thanks to the gods for protecting them.

The dragon boat parade of Tai O is in danger of dying as the fishermen who celebrate it are getting old or turning to other businesses. The religious festival is organised by three fishermen associations in the village in the form of dragon boat rides and a "deities parade" on sampans.

The fire dragon dance of Tai Hang is a Hakka tradition dating back to 1880, also related to a plague. During the three-day festival, villagers parade the fire dragon through the village to ward off the disease and bless themselves.

The ghost festival, known as the Yu Lan festival locally, is celebrated by 1.2 million Chiu Chow people in Hong Kong at 60 different places throughout the seventh lunar month.
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Old November 12th, 2009, 04:51 PM   #13
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24 hours in HK: A fresh course
3 October 2009
TODAY

As a destination for typical Singaporean travellers, Lantau Island in Hong Kong is disadvantaged. Sure, it’s home to the expat enclave of Discovery Bay and Hong Kong Disneyland, but the island’s other draws are often overshadowed by the myriad shopping and dining opportunities in the city itself. Yet, Lantau is a worthwhile day trip in its own right, offering some of the most sensational experiences in this part of the world, as well as quiet throwbacks where visitors can get away from it all. Here’s where to start.

1 The cloud riders

You can take the bus from Lantau’s ferry terminal or Tung Chung MTR stop to the island’s most famous landmark, Tian Tan Buddha — or Buddha on the mount — but why, when the alternative is to be transported there like a celestial being through the clouds? Granted, you’ll be inside the Ngong Ping 360 gondola lift, but the bird’s eye view of sea and mountains will be similar. The ride is 25 minutes long and traverses 5.7km. The terminal is Ngong Ping Village, where you can stop for a bite or a shopping spree of antiques and traditional teas on the way to the Buddha site.

2 Climb of the humble

Tian Tan Buddha, one of the world’s largest made from bronze, is 34m high and sits 710m above sea level. The gondola may take you most of the way, but there are another 268 steps to the statue’s base. After riding blithely through the clouds, you’re a mere mortal here. Puff up the steps up to see Buddha surrounded by graceful statues of worshippers, not to mention the 360 view of the surrounding countryside.

Tickets to see Buddha include the option of a vegetarian lunch. It’s a meal you won’t want to miss. Served in the Po Lin Monastery complex, the dishes are startling examples of how good tofu, mushrooms, gluten and vegetables can taste.

3 Tai O

This small fishing village in Lantau’s west has been dubbed the Venice of Hong Kong for its houses, which are built on stilts over water. The village harks back to days of yore — ancient temples, leafy lanes and seafood drying in the sun are common sights. A walk through the village market is a sensuous feast. Not only can you pick up dried seafood ranging from salted fish and shrimp paste to shrivelled oysters and scallops, but also one of the most distinctive Tai O memory of all — its sharp briny smell.
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Old December 3rd, 2009, 05:00 PM   #14
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Opinion : We must save unique culture
18 November 2009
SCMP

I went on a field trip to Tai O and felt it was a great opportunity to see, at first hand, the rural life of one of Hong Kong's most treasured villages.

I learned a great deal and the vivid images of people selling shrimp sauce and pastes, villagers putting out salted fish and children playing outside the distinctive homes, have stayed with me.

It was so different from the busy lives we lead in urban Hong Kong.

Tai O is now becoming more popular as a tourist destination. New buildings are being erected and this has raised concerns about the way of life of villagers being affected.

Will tourism damage the fragile environment?

The environment is already under threat, thanks to factories from Guangdong emptying polluting chemicals into the sea and air. This can damage Tai O's ecosystems.

In Hong Kong, the price we have had to pay to become an international financial centre has been deteriorating air quality.

However, Tai O needs the tourists. Its residents cannot rely on fishing to earn a living.

It is, therefore, important that the government encourages tourism, but at the same time protects the village's unique culture.

Sally Leung Chui-ping, Hung Hom
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Old February 6th, 2010, 04:08 PM   #15
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Some older photos, showing the devastation from the fire of 2000.

Source : http://www.pbase.com/sloppy/tai_o





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Old August 12th, 2010, 05:06 PM   #16
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The reawakening of Tai O
28 July 2010
China Daily - Hong Kong Edition

Once Hong Kong's biggest fishing village, Tai O's population today is only a tenth of what it was during its peak years. The isolated island setting is becoming transformed into a weekend resort, which will include a boutique hotel, in the place where guards once stood watch on the look out for pirates. Emma Dai reports.

The old two-storey police station, having seen better years, stands on a hill overlooking the Tai O waterfront. The termites have had their day. The building where more than 200 Royal Marine and Gurkha guards watch, looking for pirates, is in disrepair. The Victorian ivory pillars of the verandah are pitted and scarred, perhaps from bullets fired during the station's days. The station remained in operation until 1996, then was abandoned to its fate where the jungle began creeping back to reclaim the land.

Tai O once boasted a population of more than 30,000 when it was Hong Kong's largest fishing village. Today the population has dwindled to around 2,700 and Tai O is finding a new purpose as a popular weekend resort. It's a peaceful place, out on island, away from the infamous din of the city - a perfect spot to catch the dawn on a sunny morning; a place where one can hear the twittering of birds and catch a glance of pink dolphin in the waves of sea.

The 108-year-old police station is to reopen next year, as a nine-suite boutique hotel. The venture sounds promising enough. It's expected to attract more than 60,000 visitors per year. Work has already begun, with treatment undertaken to rid the structure of termites. Insulation and water-proofing will be added when re-roofing. The former fire bunker will be become the wine cellar for the new restaurant. The restaurant, planned for the rooftop, will be fitted out with a glass cover, to keep out insects and extremes of tropical weather.

"We want to preserve the building, not to rebuild it," said Randy Yu, general manager of Hong Kong Heritage Conservation Foundation Limited (HCF), a non-profit enterprise backed by the property giant, Sino Group. "We will keep the simple and elegant style. The outlook will not change. You will see the building in its glory time."

Originally, Yu comes from Tai O. He was born there and spent his childhood in its environs.

The renovations on the old police station aim to preserve the station house; the old-style bullet-proof window steel; most of the wood louvers; wood blocks and fire places. "They are about 80 to 90 years old," Yu said. "But these are good wood. We will restore them as long as they are not broken."

The proposal for restoration of the station was put on the table two years ago when it was listed by the Development Bureau as one of six proposed partnership projects aimed at giving new life to historic buildings under a policy called "adaptive re-use."

After two rounds of selection, the project was authorized to HCF. The selection was probably based largely on HCF's track record for sensitive heritage restoration projects, including the Fullerton Hotel in Singapore.

"It's the culture that we mean to revitalize, not just the building," Yu said. "The hotel will be used as a platform."

HCF is producing a documentary to record old businesses and customs. The production team interviewed more than 40 retired marine policemen who used to serve in Tai O. They've talked to the former fishermen and the sea salt makers. HCF is also working with the rural committee to help restore the water wedding, a tradition among fisher-folk that used to last two to three days but now long abandoned.

"It's like collecting puzzles to complete the culture scene," Yu said. "We promote these activities, hoping that youngsters can learn the customs and old men can flesh out memories at dinner tables. Then the traditions will be passed to the next generation."

"The company wants to pay back society," Yu added. "We will use our expertise and all the residual income to support local events and improve public facilities, making Tai O a more attractive place, to both locals and tourists."

It appears inevitable that any public enterprise attracts controversy and the renovation of the Tai O Police station is no exception. Heritage buildings are public property, which means everybody should have access. Plans call for a 30-square-meter reception area, featuring historic photos and videos, offering public access. There will be free daily guided tours of unoccupied rooms and of the grounds.

"Profit is not our priority," Yu said. "We are going to make sure everyone, both tourists and locals, get a chance to have a look at the heritage. People can also enter rooms when they are not occupied."

"Free tour? Day dream! Guests have privacy," said Wong Wai King, who, along with her husband, collects old Tai O artifacts. Her free Tai O museum contains items from children's plastic slippers to the bamboo furniture from homes of the fishermen of days gone by.

"I don't believe the hotel could give us free access," Wong said. "It's not public space. Though the government funds it, but I would not be surprised if it turned out to be an exclusive club for the rich."

If Wong's prediction proved correct, it would not be unprecedented in the history of Hong Kong's restoration of heritage buildings. The redevelopment of the former marine police headquarters in Tsim Sha Tsui, which opened as a luxury shopping center and hotel last year, has come under criticism for providing poor public access to heritage areas.

Wong, who has lived in Tai O for more than fifty years, says the police station was never open for daily visits. It would open around Christmas, she recalled. There would be carol singing on Christmas Eve. Kids were given sweets and other snacks.

To her, a police museum would be a perfect revitalization plan, though even she wonders whether visitors would be interested.

"Museums are sometimes a good way but not necessarily in every case," said Leung Yee-wah, academic director of the space cultural heritage management program of the University of Hong Kong.

"One can only feel the heritage value when it maintains its antiquity," Leung said. "The most important thing is not to let as many people in as possible, but to give those who really want to learn a chance to appreciate.

"After all, we don't preserve it for its own sake," Leung said. "The whole meaning of revitalization is to let the community appreciate and enjoy the heritage. Thus we can conserve not only the structure, but also the culture and history as well."

"If there is anyone who thinks heritage hotel is (going to be) exclusive, it's only because we have seen too many unfriendly corporate managers," Leung added. "In particular developers have little initiative to open (heritage buildings) because the authority doesn't write their leases tightly enough. A proper mechanism should be guaranteed to protect the public's right to enjoy as intended. It will really help if the authority takes a strong hand against abusing."

One is likely to encounter more dried fish than people in the famed stilt-house neighborhood. Kids who grew up in Tai O don't stay. They move away to pursue life in modern times, leaving behind them only the very old and the very young. The old ways are fading.

"I'm sad about that," said Yu, who left Tai O after primary school and now works in Kowloon. "Walking around the site remind me of the old days. I remember the carol party I've been to and those fishermen buying supplies in my father's store. It used to be popular to sail for two or three months in South China Sea."
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Old October 2nd, 2010, 03:08 PM   #17
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Redevelopment plan sets the alarm bells ringing in Tai O
21 September 2010
South China Morning Post

An application to redevelop an old house in the heart of Tai O has raised the alarm about the fate of the government's plan to preserve the ambience of the Lantau fishing village, which lacks any town planning controls.

The two-storey white house at 2 and 4 Tai O Market Street may not be an architectural masterpiece, but it has been a key element of the oldest commercial street in the village for about 70 years.

The Antiquities Advisory Board proposed grade-two historic status for it yesterday after being informed that the landlord had submitted an application to build two small houses there.

The case was urgently placed on the agenda as departments needed a heritage grading as a basis to deal with the small-house application. In the one-month consultation that follows, the landlord and the public can make submissions about the grading.

"We are worried that the new buildings will destroy the ambience of the old place. It is not an individual block but the overall outlook of the old street that counts," board chairman Bernard Chan said.

The house stands at the dropping point of the hand-pulled ferry, which used to be the main form of transport within Tai O.

Featuring a narrow balcony, it was built in the 1920s and 1930s.

It once housed Caltex, the only shop in Tai O selling kerosene for fuel and other daily necessities, according to the Antiquities and Monuments Office.

Board member Dr Ng Cho-nam said the case raised the alarm about the consequences of a lack of planning control in Tai O. Like Tai Long Wan in Sai Kung, there is no zoning covering the Tai O village centre.

"If the centre is subject to uncontrolled development, I'm afraid the government's plan to revitalise Tai O will be miscarried," Ng said.

The plan involves a new entrance plaza at the Tai O bus terminus, a river wall to prevent flooding, a folk museum in stilted houses over water and a youth hostel to be built in a disused public housing block, among others. Some work has already started.
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Old November 16th, 2010, 07:57 PM   #18
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Old December 25th, 2010, 04:14 PM   #19
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Lantau draws urge tourist roads
19 October 2010
The Standard

Three major attractions on Lantau - AsiaWorld-Expo, Ngong Ping 360 and Hong Kong Disneyland - have called for an upgrade of the island's road system to improve its standing as a tourist destination. Li Yun-tai, managing director of Ngong Ping 360, said at the Lantau Tourism Forum yesterday that more than 10 major attraction sites on Lantau are accessible by public transport within an hour of Tung Chung.

``However, it takes much longer for tour buses to travel directly between tourist sites because a number of major pathways on Lantau are private roads restricted to residents,'' he said.

James Tien Pei-chun, chairman of the Tourism Board, said one in four travelers to Hong Kong visit Lantau Island, double the number in 2005.

``Lantau is gifted with spectacular scenery and a rich cultural heritage, as well as world-class trade show facilities. We should foster closer partnerships for the sustainable tourism growth of the city's biggest island,'' he said.

Ngong Ping 360, Noah's Ark and Hong Kong Disneyland have launched a joint-attraction ticket offer for the first time in which visitors to any one place receive a 10 percent discount when purchasing one-day admission tickets for any of the other two attractions during November.

Michael Wu Siu-ying, chairman of the Travel Industry Council, said he hopes tourism on Lantau will be further boosted after construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, which is due for completion in 2015.

Chau Chuen-heung, a local resident and 10-year district councillor on Lantau, said she supports measures to boost tourism on the island because it would create more job opportunities for residents who cannot afford high transport fees for commuting to work in urban areas.

In 2004, a concept plan for Lantau was drawn up by Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen to provide an overall planning framework for the island's future development. New attractions including a boutique heritage hotel in Tai O, windsurfing facilities in Mui Wo and mountain bike tracks will be built on Lantau in the next two years.

Meanwhile, Tien said 27 million people visited Hong Kong as of October 10, up 23 percent over last year. Tourists stay in the territory for 3.4 days on average and Tien expects a 20 percent increase in the annual number of visitors by year-end.
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Old February 1st, 2011, 11:57 AM   #20
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New Lantau road turns hot spot for 'cattle killers'
23 January 2011
South China Morning Post

The increased use of a new road on Lantau is driving up the death toll of wild cattle and water buffalo at the hands of speeding drivers - and has raised fears humans could be next.

Over the past six months, the Lantau Buffalo Association and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) have seen a rise in accidents in southern Lantau, as speeding drivers crash into animals roaming the roadside.

The association's secretary, John Schofield, said wild cattle were more at risk than water buffalo, as cattle tended to seek dry ground as much as possible while buffalo preferred to be in wetlands, where they could wallow.

"In the evenings, they like to get on the tarmac or you'll see them lying on the side of the road," Schofield said. "The three main herds generally congregate in the Cheung Sha, Tong Fuk and Shek Pik areas. They wander up and down the roads, particularly in the wet summer months."

For a number of years this was not a big problem, but since the opening of the new Tung Chung Road and urban development of southern Lantau, traffic - and speeding - have increased. "In the past month I've had to put down four cattle that had been knocked down by lorries or buses," Dr Cheryl McMeekan, a veterinarian at the SPCA clinic in Mui Wo, said.

"Thankfully, we've not had any human fatalities yet, but it may only be a matter of time {hellip} It's a problem that has to be addressed quickly before there's a tragic accident."

McMeekan confirmed speed cameras had been mounted outside Mui Wo, at Tai O and on Tung Chung Road, but they did not seem to deter speeding. "The problems are worst at night when the cattle are along the road and drivers don't see them in time. If drivers were respecting the speed limit it wouldn't be a problem, but they aren't."

Police said their annual traffic accident figures on Lantau Island for 2008, 2009 and 2010 were 54, 54 and 78 respectively. They do not maintain individual records of traffic accidents involving animals.

They say 21 road signs warning of cows have been put up along South Lantau Road.

"Trucks, vans and even taxis have been known to hit cattle, but only [some cases] are reported to police," Schofield said. "Unless a passer-by sees it happening, it's not reported. It's just hit and run. The worry is that this speeding will end up with a young child being knocked down."

Over time, as farming dwindles on Lantau, the cattle are released into the countryside. They now number about 200, down from 400 after a series of culls by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department over the past 10 years.

The department, buffalo association and SPCA are carrying out a population control programme by desexing the bulls through castration to try to keep the bovine population on southern Lantau down to a manageable number, and avoid heavy culls.

People who encounter difficulties with stray cattle or water buffalo in the southern Lantau area can call the association's hotline on 8103 6312, or e-mail [email protected].
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