Speech by SCED at 27th Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Industry Association Annual Dinner (English only)
Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at the 27th Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Industry Association (HKECIA) Annual Dinner today (June 2):
Stuart (Chairman of the HKECIA, Mr Stuart Bailey), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to join you all here tonight to celebrate the 27th anniversary of the Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Industry Association.
Twenty-seven years ago, to be precise in April 1990, the Basic Law was promulgated. It provides for the innovative "one country, two systems", which gives Hong Kong its unique advantage to be the perfect springboard between Mainland China and the rest of the world.
One month later, in May 1990, the HKECIA was founded. Since then, thanks to the concerted efforts and profound dedication of the members of the HKECIA, the MICE (meetings, incentive travels, convention and exhibition) industry has become an important component in our economy, and Hong Kong has become a premier MICE destination in the region. Last year, we saw an impressive growth of 10 per cent in the number of overnight MICE visitors, reaching 1.89 million.
You may ask, what do the HKECIA and the Basic Law have in common, other than having the same age? They are both platforms that facilitate and make things happen. The HKECIA facilitates a wide range of MICE events to bring together people, products and services from all around the world. The HKECIA creates opportunities for trade and exchange of ideas, and strengthens our international profile as a business hub.
Similarly, the Basic Law provides Hong Kong with sustainable prosperity by guaranteeing the free flow of people, capital and ideas. As a result, Hong Kong has become a world-renowned international business hub and financial centre. The Basic Law also provides Hong Kong with a perfect platform to facilitate overseas companies to seize opportunities in the massive and fast growing markets in Mainland China and Asia, and at the same time facilitates Mainland Chinese companies to enter the international business world.
Our achievement has been well recognised internationally. We have been continuously recognised as the freest economy in the world by the United States-based Heritage Foundation for 23 consecutive years since 1995. We have also earned the title of the world’s most competitive economy in the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook in 2016 and 2017.
Our facilitator role will be made even stronger in the foreseeable future, thanks to the Belt and Road Initiative. With a pool of talented professionals, including all of you here tonight, and the rich experience in international trade and doing business in Mainland China, we are naturally the ideal strategic partner for realising the opportunities brought by the Belt and Road Initiative.
The Government will continue to work closely with the HKECIA and support the development of the MICE industry. Starting from this year, the Government will provide an annual provision of $15 million to the Hong Kong Tourism Board. The goal is to provide more attractive and targeted supporting services and hospitality offers for MICE event organisers and participants. The Government is also exploring different options to increase the floor area of MICE venues.
This year, we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and the theme of the celebration is "Together • Progress • Opportunity". Looking ahead, the Government will continue to work closely together with the HKECIA to make progress and realise opportunities.
Finally, may I wish the HKECIA every success in the years to come. I also wish you all an enjoyable evening. Thank you.
Ends/Friday, June 2, 2017