GRASSROOTS political leaders in Hong Kong are rallying behind the city’s beleaguered exhibition industry contractors warning that thousands more jobs are at risk if authorities do not step into help.
The Covid downturn has brought business events in the city to a halt with suppliers of exhibition backdrops and audiovisual services bearing the brunt as organisers turn to digital formats.
Representatives of the contractors held a press conference on Tuesday and said around 150 companies mainly involved in building booths faced going under with the loss of 15,000 jobs.
Speakers called on the Hong Kong government to sponsor fairs in government venues for small- to medium-sized businesses to help the struggling companies.
Vincent Cheng, a legislator with the DAB party, said HK$1 billion in relief measures rolled out by the government for the exhibitions sector offered reimbursement of expenses for events already held.
Cheng said workers could only apply for the subsidy as a reimbursement of expenses incurred during exhibitions, but with no exhibitions being held, no one was able to apply.
Cheng’s party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, has 13 seat in the Legislative Council and is close to government leaders in the city and officials in the Liaison Office, who represent Chinese government policy.
One of the contractor representatives at the press conference was quoted by local radio station RTHK as saying his company had almost zero income since the Covid outbreak as large exhibitions in Hong Kong were not being held.
Ray Chan said much of the construction material in his warehouse would have to be given away and high rents would force a move to smaller premises. His staff would also face redundancies if the situation continued, he told reporters.