LCQ2: Provision of convention and exhibition facilities
Following is a reply by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, to a question by the Hon Wong Ting-kwong in the Legislative Council today (January 9):
It has been reported that the Chairman of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC) indicated last month that the usage of the Atrium Link of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC), which has been completed for over two years, has now reached saturation and HKCEC has so far turned down 50 and 150 applications for renting exhibition and convention venues respectively. He also pointed out that as the AsiaWorld-Expo (AWE) is remotely located, most exhibitors and buyers are unwilling to travel long distance between the two exhibition venues. Therefore, it is not feasible for HKCEC to collaborate with AWE to provide exhibition spaces under the "one show, two locations" approach. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) whether it knows the number of applications for renting exhibition and convention venues turned down by HKCEC due to inadequate venues over the past three years, and the economic loss caused to Hong Kong; whether it has compiled statistics on the number of days in 2012 when the usage of all the major exhibition venues in Hong Kong reached saturation; if it has, of the figures;
(b) given that the authorities have all along indicated that they have been encouraging collaboration among TDC, HKCEC and AWE on exhibition projects, of the specific incentive measures taken by the authorities and the number of exhibitions held under the "one show, two locations" approach over the past three years; given that the TDC Chairman has pointed out that the "one show, two locations" approach is not feasible, of the authorities' measures to practically resolve the collaboration problem between the two exhibition facilities; and
(c) of the authorities' progress in assessing whether it is necessary to expand the convention and exhibition venues in Hong Kong; of the time when specific proposals will be put forward; whether the authorities have assessed how Hong Kong's convention and exhibition industry has been affected by the development plans for the convention and exhibition industry in neighboring countries and regions (including the potential losses suffered by Hong Kong as a result of its failure to increase convention and exhibition venues); if they have, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
In response to a question raised by the Hon Wong Ting-kwong, (a) there are two major convention and exhibition facilities in Hong Kong, namely the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) and the AsiaWorld-Expo (AWE).
According to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (Management) Limited, in the past three years (i.e. from Year 2010 to 2012), they have turned down a total of 44 applications for renting exhibition venues because of a shortage of space at HKCEC, and among them only 13 cases were concerned with trade exhibitions. For the same period, HKCEC has also declined a total of 89 applications for conference venues due to a shortage of space. We do not have sufficient information to assess the relevant economic loss to Hong Kong, but it is worth noting that the targeted dates for most of these applications indeed fell on the peak seasons of the exhibition industry. AWE, on the other hand, had not rejected any applications owing to a shortage of space in the last three years.
Generally speaking, the supply of exhibition and convention facilities at HKCEC and AWE is tight during the purchasing seasons. In 2012, the exhibition facilities of HKCEC reached saturation on 41 show days, which were mainly during the peak seasons of the exhibition industry. AWE was almost full for eight days in 2012, including the period during the September Hong Kong Jewellery and Gem Fair as well as the October China Sourcing Fair - Electronics and Components (Autumn Edition).
(b) The Government has been encouraging the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC) and other exhibition organisers to better utilise the existing exhibition and convention facilities of Hong Kong through the adoption of various approaches, including "one show, two venues".
However, how should the shows be staged and the approaches to be adopted are in fact commercial decisions to be made by exhibition organisers, based on the need of exhibitors and buyers. Successful implementation of the "one show, two venues" approach requires close co-ordination between venue operators and fair organisers. Sufficient time should also be allowed for exhibitors and buyers to adapt to such changes. A good example is the Hong Kong Jewellery and Gem Fair, which has been held concurrently at HKCEC and AWE since September 2009. The number of exhibitors increased from 3 061 in 2009 to 3 526 in 2012 (i.e. an increase of 15%), while the number of participants also grew from 39 146 to 51 977 (i.e. an increase of 33%) for the same period. We understand that the operator of AWE is also discussing ways with the private fair organiser to expand further the fair at AWE in 2013 and beyond.
The Government will continue to offer assistance as appropriate, for example, in the area of transportation arrangements. With the joint efforts of various parties, a number of transportation facilitation measures have been put in place on days with events at AWE, which include, inter alia, the provision of numerous bus routes connecting to various places at the Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories, by the franchised bus operators. Besides, the MTR Corporation Limited also provides concessionary fares on days with events at AWE. On the other hand, the Government will continue to facilitate and co-ordinate fair organisers to run shuttle bus services between the two venues during exhibitions. In fact, in the previous three years (i.e from Year 2010 to 2012), TDC and a private fair organiser have been operating free shuttle bus services, running between HKCEC and AWE, during the Electronics and Houseware Fairs held in April and October each year respectively, with a view to boosting the people flow in both venues and facilitating buyers in purchasing goods.
(c) The Government is closely monitoring and assessing the demand for convention and exhibition facilities in Hong Kong, as well as the development of conventions and exhibitions in our nearby countries and places. At present, HKCEC and AWE mainly face a shortage of space during the peak seasons of the exhibition industry. We will continue to liaise with the industry and the operators of the two exhibition venues to enhance the co-operation between HKCEC and AWE, and to facilitate a more effective utilisation of the overall convention and exhibition facilities in Hong Kong. We will also encourage the exhibition organisers and those planning to organise conferences to hold their events at non-peak seasons, or use other convention and exhibition venues in Hong Kong where possible. In the long run, we will keep on assessing the demand, and implement suitable measures or increase the supply of convention and exhibition facilities according to the need.
Thank you, President.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013