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Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Industry highlights need for government support

Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Industry highlights need for government support
August 18, 2020

Having conducted a member survey “Impact of Covid-19 to Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Industry”, the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Industry Association (HKECIA) presented the results to representatives of Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) on 11th August 2020 urging the authority to provide more support to help the industry throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

Due to the third wave of COVID-19 in Hong Kong, there are further postponements or cancellations of public exhibitions originally scheduled for this summer.

In the meeting on 11th August 2020, newly elected Chairman Stuart Bailey and office bearers explained to the senior government officials the biggest challenges faced by the industry and asked the government to provide immediate financial and policy support in addition to the Convention and Exhibition Industry Subsidy Scheme under the HKSAR Anti-epidemic Fund.

Bailey noted “only four small-scale consumer exhibitions took place from February to July.  All other exhibitions and conventions scheduled to take place have not been held.  No event being held means that there has been zero cash generated by organisers, venues, and suppliers to the industry.  The Subsidy Scheme, however, is only able to assist the convention and exhibition sector once it is practicable for events to resume, a point which we have yet to reach.  We urge the government to provide immediate and additional financial assistance for event organisers and event related service providers.  

“Apart from immediate financial assistance, we seek clarity from the government on matters relating to travel restrictions, and to demand much greater transparency around the reviews of the compulsory quarantine arrangements for countries / regions that have a good record against the pandemic.”

Bailey stressed that the exhibition industry plays a critical role for the Hong Kong economy and has contributed significant economic benefits to Hong Kong by generating spin-offs for related industries, e.g. hotels, restaurants, transport, retail, etc), creating numerous jobs and business opportunities for small and medium enterprises, and enhancing Hong Kong’s international image and reputation.  Exhibitions need to come back strongly to support the recovery of trade and business in Hong Kong.

91% of survey respondents state that the Subsidy Scheme with a commitment of HK$1,020 million to subsidise participants and organisers of convention and exhibition activities was insufficient. 

Part of the Subsidy Scheme subsidises private organisers of exhibitions and international conventions held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and AsiaWorld-Expo 100% of the venue rental. 

Due to the third wave of COVID-19 in Hong Kong, there are further postponements or cancellations of public exhibitions originally scheduled for this summer and the start day of the Subsidy Scheme (originally 24th July 2020) was deferred by HKSAR government without a new start day. No event organiser has received any subsidy under the Subsidy Scheme so far.

The HKECIA member Survey was conducted from 23rd to 30th July 2020 among all 115 HKECIA members.  59 members have responded and completed the survey, with 31% being event organisers and 69% non-organisers.  Here are some of the key findings:

Business loss:

  • From the 18 organiser respondents alone, 52 exhibitions and conferences have been cancelled or postponed and these events expected to draw over 54,000 exhibiting companies and over 3.4 million of visitors;
  • 98% of respondents claim that the impact of COVID-19 on their business is either severe or extremely severe;
  • 89% of organiser respondents and 59% of non-organiser project more than 12 months for their business to recover; and
  • All organisers respondents project a loss of revenue in year 2020 with 36% of them projecting a loss of over HK$100 million in 2020.

3 biggest challenges faced by HKECIA members:

  • Loss incurred by postponement or cancellation of events;
  • Lower market demand; and
  • Uncertainty due to government’s policy, e.g. social distancing, immigration control, compulsory quarantine regulation, etc.

91% of respondents claim the Subsidy Scheme does not provide sufficient assistance to their companies

  • Impossible for organisers to move forward with exhibitor recruitment and overseas buyer promotion due to the uncertainty on the pandemic and travel restriction; and
  • Uncertainty of the start-day of the Scheme may cause financial loss as some organisers would have already given discounts on participation fee to exhibitors.

HKECIA members also expressed through the survey that more and concrete government policy support is crucial to the industry revival.  Some of the suggestions are:

  • Exercise greater flexibility for the compulsory quarantine regulations imposed on foreign business travellers if they come with valid health document. For instance, if travellers are tested negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours before their flights to Hong Kong, they can enter and stay in HK for maximum seven days without compulsory quarantine.
  • Speed up the formation of “travel bubbles” with countries and regions with few COVID-19 cases
  • Extend the Scheme period from 12 to 24 months as some organisers project the industry will need more than 12 months to recover
  • As the Scheme does not apply to exhibition related service providers (non-organisers) who don’t generate any income until events resume, the government is asked to provide one-off special business operation support fund to convention and exhibition related businesses (non-organisers)
  • Provide office and warehouse rental subsidies
  • Conduct aggressive promotions by government agency to highlight Hong Kong is safe and international events are ideal platforms for trade and exchange.

For more information on HKSAR Anti-epidemic Fund click here 

Image HKCEC Temperature screening for all visitors, exhibitors, contractors and staff before entering the HKCEC. 

 

Related Articles

27th May 2020 - Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre successfully holds first event in wake of COVID-19 crisis

25th February 2020 - Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre welcomes Government exhibition subsidies

29th July 2019 - Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre continues with renovations to maintain world class standards

19th June 2019 - Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre receives UFI Sustainable Development Award 2019

14th September 2018 - Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre welcomes more than a thousand events in 2017/18

19th July 2018 - Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre launches ‘Think Before Plastic’ initiative

16th July 2020 - New Coronavirus outbreaks force Hong Kong Disneyland into new closure

29th June 2020 - Hong Kong Tourism Board hosts Global Online Forum on post COVID-19 travel

21st February 2020 - Ovolo Hotels question Hong Kong Government’s omission of tourism industry assistance

26th January 2020 - Coronavirus fears sees closure of Hong Kong and Shanghai Disney resorts


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