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Asia Business News - 2003-02-10

Tourists are gradually returning to the Indonesian island of Bali, which is continuing its recovery from a devastating terrorist attack in October. The number of tourists arriving in Bali nearly doubled in December from the previous month, to 68,000.

That was a sharp rebound in the wake of a terrorist bombing October 12 that killed nearly 200 people at a Bali nightclub, most of them Western tourists. Still, the Indonesian government says, for the whole country, the number of arrivals in December was down seven percent from a year earlier, to 281,000.

Sammy Carolus, the head of marketing for the Bali Hyatt hotel, says the tropical island's tourism industry is far from healthy. He says hotel occupancy rates have been far below the 60 percent level normally seen this time of year. "November was very low, about 15 percent, and December we had about 25 percent. And January, last month, was about 37 percent, and this month we expect more or less 37, 38 percent."

Mr. Carolus notes that a number of factors hamper the recovery. He says fear that the United States might lead a military attack on Iraq is slowing worldwide travel. The weak global economy also hurts tourism.

Hong Kong's stock exchange is investigating telecommunications company PCCW. The company told exchange officials Thursday it had not tried to take over British company Cable and Wireless. Later that same day, PCCW told London stock market regulators that it had approached Cable and Wireless about a takeover.

The contradictory statements have generated a public outcry in Hong Kong. Companies that are listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange are required to make public announcements about any large transactions, such as takeovers. According to media reports, PCCW executives say they did not intend to mislead investors or the exchange.

Shanghai, China's business center, saw contracted foreign direct investment jump 50 percent in January from a year earlier. Foreign companies signed deals to invest almost $1.2 billion in the city last month.

Chinese state media say Shanghai drew in more than $10 billion worth of contracted foreign investment last year, about 20 percent of the country's total.