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Hong Kong turns to Chan in effort to lure visitors

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Hong Kong is turning to action star Jackie Chan to help draw visitors back to the territory after the SARS outbreak.

Hong Kong was removed Monday from the World Health Organization's list of SARS-infected territories, and officials immediately announced tourism incentives and events intended to restore glitz to Hong Kong.

Chan — star of the "Shanghai Noon" and "Rush Hour" films — will appear in a TV ad designed to refurbish Hong Kong's image, Tourism Board chairwoman Selina Chow told a news conference Monday.

"We're going to polish the Hong Kong brand until it's sparkling shiny," Chow said.

She didn't provide details, and Chan's office didn't immediately respond to a reporter's queries about the ad, part of a $51.3 million package to revive tourism.

Economic Development and Labor Secretary Stephen Ip said about 320,000 people visited Hong Kong during the first 15 days of June, a 73 percent jump from the same period in May.

But Chow cautioned that a full recovery to pre-SARS levels could take a year. Two hundred and ninety-six people have died from severe acute respiratory syndrome in Hong Kong.