The Rolling Stones and tenor Jose Carreras are among the headliners of a four-week government-sponsored music festival that will try to restore some glitz to SARS-battered Hong Kong.

The Rolling Stones and tenor Jose Carreras are among the headliners of a four-week government-sponsored music festival that will try to restore some glitz to SARS-battered Hong Kong. Irish boy band Westlife, Latin rock guitarist Carlos Santana, British R&B singer Craig David, Taiwan pop sensation Jay Chou and boy band F4 will also participate in the Hong Kong Harbor Fest concert series.

"We thought we could all help Hong Kong recover by bringing some exciting, world class entertainment here," said James Thompson, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce, which is organizing the event with the government.

Thompson said he hoped the event would attract tourists from North America, Europe and Japan and in turn create jobs. Hong Kong's unemployment is at a record 8.7 percent. An outbreak of SARS between March and May dealt a heavy blow to the already struggling economy. The disease, which killed 299 people in the territory and sickened 1,755, prompted travel warnings and devastated tourism, hotel and other businesses.

"We are trying to put Hong Kong back on the map. That's the entire thrust of relaunch effort because Hong Kong really did fall down badly with SARS," Thompson said.

The festival will take place at the outdoor Tamar site along Hong Kong's waterfront between Oct. 15 and Nov. 9. The government has agreed to contribute HK$80 million (US$10.3 million) if half the tickets are sold, said Mike Rowse, director-general of Invest Hong Kong, a government body aimed at attracting overseas business.

The Stones will perform Nov. 7 and 9, with top tickets priced at HK$2,000 (US$256) each. Carreras will be in Hong Kong Oct. 20. More than 200,000 tickets for 18 shows will be available for the entire festival. Ticket sales will begin on Sept. 12.


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