’World’s Meeting Place’ Hong Kong ups recovery efforts

City tourism board chiefs declare Hong Kong is back with MICE arrivals nearing pre-pandemic levels and an international business-events publicity blitz on the way

HONG KONG will be “rolling out the red carpet” for international business event organisers and their groups under a campaign declaring the city as the “World’s Meeting Place”.

An “Incentive Playbook” will also be issued as part of Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB)’s efforts to compete as a conference and incentive-travel destination.

HKTB’s Tourism Overview 2024, attended by about 1,200 industry representatives, heard that most of the overnight visitors in 2023 as Hong Kong reopened after Covid restrictions arrived for business events such as meetings and incentives.

With the help of business event representatives in the city and HKTB’s Convention Ambassadors programme, HKTB “won and retained” a total of 16 major events in the past year that are expected to bring 210,000 overnight arrivals. 

Kenneth Wong

Kenneth Wong, HKTB’s general manager for MICE and cruise, said: “Not long after border reopening, Hong Kong picked up at a very fast pace in recovery. Last year, Hong Kong received over 1.3 million overnight MICE arrivals that got us to 66 per cent of the pre-pandemic level.”

Wong told the MICE and cruise travel section of the annual HKTB event that visitors arriving in the city for conferences, incentives and trade exhibitions continued to be a “high-yield tourism sector”. Per-capita spending by a person arriving in the city for a MICE event in 2023 was about HK$8,900 (US$1,137) – “about 29 per cent higher than a general over night visitor for the same period”, he told the audience at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The average length of stay by business event traveller was 3.7 nights. “We are also very happy to see MICE visitors rated their stay at 8.6 out of 10 points, which indicates a very high satisfaction level,” Wong said.

More… Events play big role in ‘Hello Hong Kong’ strategy 

A “very solid line-up of initiatives” aimed at international organisers with specific strategies for each business-event segment will highlight Hong Kong’s access to opportunities in the Greater Bay Area and the city’s role as a logistics “super connector” into mainland China and globally.

AsiaWorld-Expo’s hosting of the UFI World Congress next year was also seen as key to restoring Hong Kong’s profile as a destination for large international exhibitions and trade shows.

Wong said an “impactful, thematic campaign to reinforce Hong Kong as the World’s Meeting Place. Most importantly, we will position Hong Kong as a city where you can achieve more for business events.

HKTB executive director Dane Cheng addresses the audience

“We will roll out the red carpet and welcome delegates to East meets West cultural immersion, exquisite dining and nightlife experiences and rejuvenating outdoor activities and, of course, our mega events, festivals, parties and much more,” he added.

The Hong Kong Incentive Playbook will place a “laser focus” on more than a hundred ideas under the themes of culture, wellness, nature, nightlife and festivities with information on venues, team building, “immersive tours and dining options”.

Backgrounder… Festival vibe returns to Hong Kong

Wong said HKTB also saw “increasing potential” among business event attendees from Muslim-majority countries who sought halal-friendly programmes and F&B.

One of the guest speakers at the event, Fazal Bahardeen, founder and CEO of Crescent Rating, told the audience: “One of the significant growth segments within the travel sector is the Muslim travel market. Hong Kong has a unique geographical advantage. It can access over 30 per cent of the world’s Muslim population within a three-to-six -hour flight time. This advantage, coupled with its diverse tourism offerings, creates a huge opportunity for Hong Kong to tap into a significant portion of the Muslim outbound market. To fully capitalise on this opportunity, it is vital that the city launches targeted marketing campaigns to attract Muslim travellers.”

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