BUSINESS events organisers in Hong Kong are pinning hopes on “cooler heads prevailing” amid increasingly violent clashes between demonstrators and police.
Major conferences at which Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam was scheduled to address have seen the regional leader pull out since large-scale protests and subsequent street violence swept the city over a now-shelved extradition law amendment.
One appearance was due to be made at the Forbes Asia Under-30 Summit at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, July 11-13, and since then other business event appointments were cancelled due to concerns over public disturbances.
With a series of planned demonstrations expected to continue through August, trade-show organisers in the city are assessing the impact of the unrest, which has grabbed world headlines.
The South China Morning Post reported that at least six events, ranging from corporate to showbiz promotions, were cancelled by early August.
Stuart Bailey, chairman of the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Industry Association, said organisers were braced for a more challenging second half to the year, but hoped tensions would ease before the trade-show season.
“Trade events begin in earnest at the start of September, by which time we hope that cooler heads will prevail,” Bailey told the Post. “The true test for the MICE industry will come after the summer when the autumn trade fair season starts to ramp up.”
Some of the worst violence was seen the past weekend as riot police responded to attacks on police stations and the blocking of roads by firing tear gas, plastic-bullet rounds and making arrests.
A three-day sit-in at the arrivals hall of Hong Kong International Airport culminated in a blockade of passengers and battles with police when the protest was extended for a further day. The action saw the cancelling of more than 300 flights.
Destination Asia Hong Kong issued an update advising the DMC’s clients that it will remain in close contact with ground agents.
Have your events been hit by the unrest? Do you have any views about the effect of the protests? Contact MIX Editor Martin Donovan