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Speech by SDEV at UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation presentation ceremony for Tai O Heritage Hotel (English only)

Following is a speech by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, at the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation presentation ceremony for the Tai O Heritage Hotel today (November 25):

Ms Julia Davies (Programme Officer, Culture Unit, UNESCO Bangkok), Daryl (Mr Daryl Ng, Director, Hong Kong Heritage Conservation Foundation Limited), ladies and gentlemen,

I am much honoured to join you today on this joyous occasion. First, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to the Tai O Heritage Hotel revitalisation project on receiving an Award of Merit in the 2013 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation. The UNESCO award is an expert acknowledgement of the success of the public-private partnership undertaken through the Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme (Revitalisation Scheme) in the adaptive re-use of historic buildings. I also wish to congratulate Daryl, your team and the Hong Kong Heritage Conservation Foundation for receiving this well-deserved recognition.

The Tai O Heritage Hotel revitalisation project is the first project under Batch I of the Revitalisation Scheme to have won the UNESCO Award of Merit. It is also the second Batch I project that has won a UNESCO award. In fact, it is the 14th Hong Kong project to receive an award since the inauguration of the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation in 2000. This is undoubtedly a great encouragement to the Hong Kong community.

It has always been one of the Government's goals in built heritage conservation to apply good adaptive re-use to our historic buildings and give them a new lease of life. The Revitalisation Scheme, launched in 2008, is one of our major heritage conservation initiatives. Through this scheme, we invite non-profit-making organisations to submit adaptive re-use proposals for selected government-owned historic buildings.

Since its opening in February last year, the Tai O Heritage Hotel has already drawn over 300,000 visitors, including myself. On my previous visits to the Tai O Heritage Hotel, I was very much impressed by not just its tranquil setting and rich history, but also the thought given to every detail of the restoration work. It is clear that the people behind this project put their heart into the revitalisation process. This charming place has now been turned into a landmark of Tai O, rejuvenating the life and local culture of this old fishing village. No wonder it was highly regarded by the UNESCO jury for its excellent restoration work and reinvigoration of the distinctive character of this heritage property, as well as the enhanced social and economic opportunities provided by the new use of the building. I am delighted to see that this valuable cultural asset and part of Hong Kong's historical legacy has earned the support of the local people as well as the appreciation of local and overseas tourists.

With the upcoming launch of the Batch IV revitalisation projects and the completion of projects under Batches II and III in the coming months, you will see further innovative uses of our historic buildings and more cultural landmarks in the near future. I sincerely hope that these joint heritage conservation efforts involving the Government and the private sector will further enrich the cultural life of Hong Kong.

Once again, my congratulations to Daryl and to the Hong Kong Heritage Conservation Foundation for its excellent work and the honour it has brought to Hong Kong.

Ends/Monday, November 25, 2013
Issued at HKT 19:59

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