Concerns linger as industry welcomes HK Policy Address

Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Industry Association says trade shows to be back at pre-pandemic levels as one organiser warns of rising costs and lack of urgency over venue space

EXHIBITION organisers have welcomed Hong Kong SAR Government Chief Executive John Lee’s Policy Address in which he pledged continued support for the city’s MICE industry – but concerns linger as event companies cope with rising costs and lack of venues.

Lierence Li, curator of Hong Kong Toycar Salon and managing director of Market Hubs, supported the government’s measures but warned that rising costs along with venue and talent shortages were hurting smaller companies.

“The expansion of the convention and exhibition centre [HKCEC] and AsiaWorld-Expo would take time,” Li said, adding that redevelopment work on KITEC in the East Kowloon district near the former Kai Tak airport was “resulting in a serious shortage of medium-sized exhibition venues”.

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Li said this was “hindering the industry’s development, and preventing potential exhibitions and conferences from growing or losing to the Greater Bay Area or other Asian countries or cities”.

Separately, the city’s main business events association – the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Industry Association (HKECIA) – issued a statement following the Policy Address yesterday noting that trade show attendances are expected to reach pre-pandemic levels next year.

“The HKECIA welcomes government’s support to C&E industry,” Stuart Bailey, the association’s chairman, said.

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“We have seen gradual rebound of international trade fairs since March. The scale and attendance are expected to resume to pre-pandemic level next year. The incentives offered by the government [are] therefore helpful to secure recurrent trade exhibitions, which are significant to sustain Hong Kong’s status of the Trade Fair Capital in Asia.”

The Incentive Scheme for Recurrent Exhibitions provides government support for trade shows that return to the city about once a year or so. Hong King Tourism Board will continue to organise bids that secure international MICE events while implementing funding schemes.

Also in the Policy Address was continued support for the business events industry. This included new facilities for HKCEC to increase the conference and exhibition space by 40 per cent to a total of 220,000 square metres.

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“The HKECIA will continue to update the government of the development and situation of the industry and make timely proposals of how to support our industry, and hence facilitate recovery of Hong Kong’s economy at large,” Bailey said.

Market Hubs’ Li said labour, materials and construction costs increased by more than 40 per cent this year compared to 2022. He said this was discouraging small to medium-sized event companies from organising local and international conferences and exhibitions.

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