22 August 2019
The Wine & Dine Festival drew more visitors this year, but exhibitors reported a drop in revenue. Photo: HKEJ
The Wine & Dine Festival drew more visitors this year, but exhibitors reported a drop in revenue. Photo: HKEJ

Reflections on the Wine & Dine Festival

Hongkongers can take four lessons from the unexpected success of the annual Wine & Dine Festival last weekend, Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist T Y Ko wrote on Tuesday.

First, the city’s business environment is still highly flexible despite the Occupy protests

The festival was moved at the eleventh hour to the area next to the Kai Tak cruise terminal in East Kowloon, to avoid protesters near the original venue on the Central waterfront.

In just three weeks, the organizers managed to line up transport and electric power and meet fire prevention requirements. Despite the withdrawals of 50 exhibitors, everything went smoothly, showcasing the classic Hong Kong can-do spirit.

Second, festivals are becoming increasingly popular and an important contributor to the economy, since people need to get out of their flats and mix with others. 

This year, the Wine & Dine Festival drew 30 percent more visitors than last year.

The trend is also seen in the rising number of participants in outdoor carnivals during festivals like Christmas and Halloween in recent years.

Third, more middle-class households are moving northward, bringing fresh business opportunities to the New Territories. 

Shatin provides the closest available amenities and shopping options for many residents of the New Territories. But a new hub is needed for the region.

Planning Department figures show 380,000 more people are expected to move to the New Territories during the 10 years ending in 2019.

A further 260,000 will relocate to Kowloon during that period, while only 30,000 are expected to move to Hong Kong Island.

Last but not least, businessmen have to be picky in choosing their customers. Despite the higher turnout at the Wine & Dine Festival, exhibitors reported a significant drop in revenue this year.

A “by invitation only” requirement might allow festivals to screen would-be visitors, targeting potential high spenders.

Book fairs provide an example of differing strategies: the one in Hong Kong is open to all, while the Frankfurt Book Fair, the world’s largest, is exclusively open to visitors from the book trade on its first three days.

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Freelance journalist

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