Contrary to popular belief, the exhibition industry isn’t just confined to holding trade fairs and other business-related exhibition events.
The exhibition industry in Hong Kong has become increasingly diversified, providing not only venues but also a wide variety of support services for music concerts, international conferences, banquets, etc.
Given the huge revenues it grosses and the thousands of jobs it creates, the importance of the exhibition industry to the economy cannot be overstated.
According to a recent report published by the Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Industry Association, in 2016 alone, the local exhibition industry generated HK$52.9 billion in consumer and tourist spending, which is equivalent to 2.1 percent of the city’s gross domestic product (GDP) for that year.
The study also shows that international exhibitors tend to spend 75 percent more than overnight tourists on average.
And then there is the ripple effect. Apart from the direct revenues it generates, the exhibition industry also provides huge business opportunities for other sectors such as exhibition booth builders, insurance companies, logistics companies, travel agencies and hotels.
It is estimated that the exhibition industry, along with other peripheral sectors, provided about 77,000 jobs in our city in 2016.
In her maiden policy address, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor answered calls for the building of more exhibition venues by proposing to expand the existing Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) in Wan Chai.
But she has failed to address another major concern of the local exhibition industry, i.e., the unfair advantage of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) over other private exhibition organizers.
Over the years, the HKTDC has been playing the “triple” roles of business promoter, owner of the HKCEC and exhibition organizer simultaneously. As a result, the HKTDC has been enjoying a de facto monopoly on exhibition services in Hong Kong.
In fact, there have been calls for the government to make the current Competition Ordinance applicable to statutory bodies involved in economic activities such as the HKTDC.
Apart from expanding the HKCEC in Wan Chai and designating the vacant lots near the AsiaWorld-Expo on Lantau Island for the construction of new exhibition and conference facilities, the government can also consider allowing the use of the Kai Tak cruise terminal for major exhibitions and events.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec 20
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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