Quarantine rules force leather show from HK to Dubai

Organisers of APLF-Leather & Materials+ moving event to Middle East due to ‘disruption’ caused by Hong Kong’s strict quarantine rules. Fully vaccinated and Covid-negative travellers must undergo 14 to 21-day hotel stays on arrival in city

A MAJOR trade show held in Hong Kong over the past 40 years is taking its 2022 event to Dubai, citing the Chinese SAR’s strict quarantine restrictions for overseas business travellers.

Organisers of APLF-Leather and Material+ said the decision to relocate to the Dubai World Trade Centre for its March 30 to April 1, 2022, show was taken after “extensive discussions” with leather industry associations and exhibitors.

“The Hong Kong government’s announcement in August 2021 stipulated that the current regulations under the Prevention and Control of Disease Ordinance will be extended until March 31, 2022,” the Asia Pacific Leather Fair said in a statement on the decision.

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“This has meant continued disruption to both exhibitors and visitors for the APLF fairs, as inbound travel to Hong Kong is subject to testing and lengthy quarantine restrictions, although these may be eased depending on the Hong Kong health authority’s decision.

“Hence, APLF’s project in Dubai was born, so as to continue its mission of ‘Serving the Global Leather and Fashion Industries’.”

The move by Hong Kong government officials to drop plans to create a travel bubble with Singapore and instead focus on reopening the border crossings with mainland China is coming under mounting criticism from business event leaders and international companies in the city.

Though a cash lifeline in the form of changes to the Convention and Exhibition Industry Subsidy Scheme is on the way for organisers in the city with an international client base, industry leaders continue to call for an easing of quarantine rules for fully vaccinated and Covid negative business travellers.

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“Hopefully, it will return to Hong Kong for future editions, but with Hong Kong’s government stubbornly sticking to a 14-day or 21-day mandatory hotel quarantine requirement, the damage to the events industry and wider economy in Hong Kong is piling up – even as markets such as Singapore and Thailand move toward open borders,” exhibitions industry consultant Mark Cochrane, of Business Strategies Group, commented in a social media posting following an announcement of the show’s move.

APLF will use the Middle East and North Africa network of its joint venture parent company Informa Markets to deliver services to exhibitors and buyers attending the Dubai show.

Frank Boehly, director of APLF and president of SIC Group, said: “This special edition of APLF in Dubai will figure as the most important meeting of international leather stakeholders, suppliers and buyers since our last edition in 2019.

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“The industry needs APLF as an annual platform and our proactive decision to relocate the fairs from Hong Kong to Dubai shows our determination to continue serving the global leather industries. I am sure with the support of everyone, both our exhibitors and buyers will have the same, if not higher satisfaction as they have experienced in the past in Hong Kong,” said Boehly.

“Organising APLF outside Hong Kong is a new experience for us, and also suppliers and buyers,” said David Bondi, director of APLF and senior vice president of Informa Markets Asia. “But with Informa Markets’ strong presence in the Middle East and North African markets, our local resources and regional experience will complement our expertise and most certainly benefit the organisation of APLF’s Special Edition in Dubai.

“Add to that the positive feedback from our association partners all around the world, and I am fully confident that a successful edition of APLF will be held in March 2022.”

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