Gay Games HK drives US$25.5m into city economy – study

Nine-day event attracts 5,600 visitors – 30% non-local – and makes history as first event of its type funded solely by corporate and private donations

DESPITE challenges such as securing venues, opposition from a minority of city lawmakers and delays due to pandemic restrictions, the Gay Games 11 Hong Kong 2023 generated about HK$200 million (US$25.5m) in economic impact, according to researchers. a post-event study.

A post-event study conducted by academics from the Department of Economics at Kent State University in Ohio, USA, found that local earnings increased by about HK$101.5 million during the Games, and created the equivalent of 439 jobs.

Organisers praised Regina Ip, centre, for her support

Gay Games Hong Kong (GGHK) was held from November 3-11, 2023 and included 18 sports with over 500 matches/events, gala concerts, a festival village as well as opening and closing ceremonies. The event attracted about 5,600 visitors, including 2,380 participants of which 30 per cent were non-local.

Direct and indirect spending by non-local participants and visitors/guests contributed HK$95 million while spending by GGHK – the first Gay Games funded solely by corporate and private donations without government financial support – accounted for almost HK$60 million of the economic impact.

Study authors Dr Shawn Rohlin and Dr Nadia Greenhalgh-Stanley said that the GGHK provided an important economic impact for Hong Kong, including higher revenues for local businesses and new local jobs.

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“The Gay Games provided an important positive contribution to the Hong Kong economy across many important industries, including hotels, restaurants, entertainment and retail, which provided spill-over effects throughout the economy,” the authors said.

“The 11th edition of the Gay Games held in Hong Kong encouraged local athletes to stay within the local area, rather than having to travel out of town to participate in these competitions. Unlike previous games the Hong Kong games were privately funded and operated by volunteers meaning no direct government funding contributed to the economic impact.”

Light displays the opening ceremony

GGHK co-chairs Lisa Lam and Alan Lang said that the Games had not only contributed to the local economy but had also provided a positive and welcoming environment for participants and their supporters.

The staging of the Games in Hong Kong also encouraged participation by local athletes and supporters, providing a unique opportunity to help create history by being part of the first Gay Games in Asia, they said.

GGHK generated positive media coverage for the event and, by extension, Hong Kong, the organisers said. Based on GGHK’s own tracking, the Games led to almost 1,600 pieces of unique content in local and global media.

The organisers added that positive content covered points such as celebrating unity in diversity, cultural shift towards more inclusivity, overcoming the challenges of organising the event, enthusiasm of participants, the successful staging of the Game. 

Certain lawmakers had raised objections to the Games being held in Hong Kong, but organisers noted the high-level support from legislator Regina Ip, who is also the regional government’s executive council convenor.

GGHK social media channels extended the global exposure of content with a combined reach of about 9.5 million on the official Facebook and Instagram pages.

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A post-event survey of participants by the Federation of Gay Games found that those who took part in the Games considered their experience joyful and meaningful.

“While we did face a number of challenges – particularly in securing venues – the whole GGHK team and our dedicated volunteers worked extremely hard to realise the FGG ethos of ‘Unity in Diversity’ and ‘Games for All’, organisers said.

“We deeply appreciate the unwavering support we received from Regina Ip and Allan Zeman who supported us throughout our whole journey,” the statement added, referring to one of the leading entrepreneurs in Hong Kong.

“We are very thankful for all the support we received from the corporate sector, especially our Platinum Partners Marriott Bonvoy and YouTube/Google, and our Silver Partners Standard Chartered, Gilead Life Sciences and HSBC. A large number of companies also sponsored teams or athletes.

“This high level of corporate support made the Games possible and contributed significantly to the success of the Games. All the corporate sponsors and supporters have shown by their actions and financial support that diversity and inclusion are important values to uphold for an international city like Hong Kong More than 50 companies provided value-in-kind, product and discount, or cash support.”

GGHK received very favourable feedback on the high quality and impact of the Opening Ceremony and its moving performances and inclusion of Hong Kong talent. Hong Kong also ranked highly in areas such as organisation, customer service, personal safety and an overwhelming lack of discrimination.

The next Gay Games will be held in Valencia, Spain, in 2026.

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