|From March to May 2003, Hong Kong's tourism industry underwent a serious downturn upon the outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in the territory, which caused 1,755 cases in Hong Kong before July. Inbound tourism practically ground to a halt between 2 April and 23 May, during which the World Health Organization (WHO) advised the public to consider postponing all but essential travel to Hong Kong. Then, in a dramatic twist, the industry received a significant boost in late July, when residents of four nearby Mainland Chinese cities were allowed to apply to visit Hong Kong on an individual basis as part of the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA). Formerly, Mainland Chinese tourists could only visit Hong Kong with tour groups. By September, tourists from the major cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen could also visit Hong Kong on an individual basis. Mainland tourists literally began to flood in as a result, bringing up total visitor arrival figures to a level that even surpassed pre-SARS statistics. Even more easing of travel restrictions was expected in the first half of 2004. How could Hong Kong's SMEs, much battered by the economic woes in recent years that were capped by the SARS attack, capitalise on the new opportunities offered by the liberalisation of Mainland travel?