HONG KONG must not slide from its position as “Trade Fair Capital of Asia” due to the Covid-19 pandemic, say local business event organisers in a message welcoming the city government’s commitment to building additional exhibition space.
The Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Industry Association (HKECIA) said it supported a “reconfirmation” in the Hong Kong SAR chief executive Carrie Lam’s recent Policy Address to redevelop government buildings in Wan Chai as event space and the phase-two expansion of AsiaWorld-Expo.
“Over the past three decades, Hong Kong has successfully positioned itself as the Trade Fair Capital of Asia and brought enormous benefits to Hong Kong’s reputation and economy, the HKECIA is resolute not to let this position slip as Hong Kong’s key advantages over other cities in the region remain strong,” said Stuart Bailey, the association’s chairman.
The HKECIA also called on the government to issue more support and relief to the industry so it can rebound, particularly after a fourth wave of rising Covid cases in the city that have triggered tighter gathering restrictions.
Bailey said Hong Kong could bounce back from the economic ravages caused by the pandemic, but he warned that contractors and suppliers have been severely hit and this could delay recovery.
“We are still confident that we will beat this virus and that face-to-face exhibitions will come back stronger than ever combined with new ideas that will enhance deal-making and measurable business outcomes for all participants,” he said.
“Hong Kong is experiencing another peak period of Covid-19 epidemic peak, unfortunately some exhibitions have been further postponed and cancelled.
“The HKEICA urges the government to provide more support and relief to the industry until business events can fully rebound, especially to the contractors, sub-contractors and suppliers, whose business is hugely affected by the pandemic since February 2020. If they cannot survive, our industry is unable to bounce back quickly after the pandemic.”
Bailey said the business events contributed immensely to the Hong Kong economy over the years, in terms of expenditure, creating jobs in the exhibition industry and other service and supporting sectors while enhancing Hong Kong’s international image.
Plans to redevelop the sites of the three government towers in Wan Chai North and the Kong Wan Fire Station across from Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre into convention and exhibition facilities, hotel and Grade A office were first introduced by the government in its 2017 Policy Address.
The association also welcomed plans by the Airport Authority’s plan to invest in building phase two of AsiaWorld-Expo.
Main picture: Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre