ATTRACTING business and sports events that put Hong Kong on the world stage will be enhanced under a restructuring of government departments outlined in Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s 2021 Policy Address.
Hong Kong Tourism Board chairman Pang Yiu-kai and the region’s Olympic Committee chairman Timothy Fok have welcomed proposals to establish a new Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau.
The new bureau will also help achieve the China central government’s aim of developing Hong Kong into a “hub for arts and cultural exchanges” under the National 14th Five-Year Plan.
Fok said he hoped more events such as the annual Rugby Sevens – which has been postponed due to the Covid pandemic – are brought to Hong Kong with the grouping of sports alongside tourism.
A new stadium and sports precinct being built on the site of the former airport at Kai Tak near the city’s cruise terminal is expected to attract top sporting events to the city and be the new home of the Hong Kong Sevens.
The bureau would “consolidate Hong Kong’s position as the MICE and tourism capital of the Greater Bay Area, as well as an international travel destination through hosting major international MICE events”, said YK Pang, the Hong Kong Tourism Board boss, referring to the economic region that groups Hong Kong, Macau, Zhuhai and several municipalities in Guangdong province including Shenzhen.
Pang said HKTB’s “work plan” cultural tourism and promoting multi-destination travel in the Greater Bay Area.
Fok, who is also president of the soccer governing body in the city – the Hong Kong Football Association – told the South China Morning Post: “There will be dedicated people representing the sports community – everyone knows that sports culture is a part of Hong Kong’s future.
“You see a lot of these National Sports Associations and events like the Rugby Sevens are very international and tourism related. Everyone is invested in sports and cultural facilities, so I hope it pushes Hong Kong more towards the international setting.”
Pang said the new arts precinct in West Kowloon already served as an example of cultural tourism with the Hong Kong Neighbourhood – West Kowloon promotion having been launched in September.
Hong Kong Tourism Board chiefs say that more than “14 large-scale international MICE events” due to be hosted in the city are expected to attract 60,000 participants. Events include RISE 2022 – billed as Asia’s largest tech conference – and IAAPA Expo Asia, organised by the Global Association for the Attractions Industry.
Business event leaders in the city, however, have called on Hong Kong government officials to rethink their decision to prioritise the opening of borders with mainland China over access for international business travellers who are fully vaccinated and Covid clear.
Arrivals in Hong Kong must stay in hotel quarantine for up to 21 days event if they are vaccinated and tested negative for Covid. Stuart Bailey, chairman of the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Industry Association, said this was leading to the collapse of companies supplying the city’s business events industry.