The World Health Organization has removed Singapore from its list of SARS-affected countries, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has lifted its advisory against all non-essential travel to Hong Kong.
Both moves were hailed by the countries' tourism officials. In Singapore, a convoy of six Harley-Davidsons kicked off the celebrations at Boat Quay, the city’s riverbank, with some 3,000 revelers.
The celebrations were organized by Singapore Can-Lah!, a coalition of private-sector companies in the travel and tourism industry, launched six weeks ago in response to the outbreak. Singapore Tourism Board’s deputy chairman and chief executive, Lim Neo Chian, said in a press statement, "I’m very happy we are off the list, but it’s not quite a weight off our shoulders. The real work begins now to bring tourists back."
Regarding the Hong Kong move, "the announcement is a further indication that travel to Hong Kong is safe and life is returning to normal," said Tung Chee Hwa, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, in a statement. "The announcement by the CDC, coupled with the May 23rd announcement by the World Health Organization to lift its Hong Kong travel advisory reinforces the world's confidence in Hong Kong's ability to control the SARS virus and limit its further spread."
"The CDC's action today provides reassurance to our U.S. visitors that they can start planning their visits to Hong Kong again," said Lily Shum, regional director for the Americas, Hong Kong Tourism Board. "We already have special packages to welcome American visitors back, and have been working closely with our trade partners to provide both outstanding values and experiences for visitors to our city."