Major Speeches, Presentations and Press Releases



LCQ18: Proposals on development of convention and exhibition venues in Wan Chai

     Following is a question by the Hon Tanya Chan and a written reply by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, in the Legislative Council today (February 15):
 
Question:
 
     It was projected in 2015 in a consultancy study commissioned by the Government that by 2028, there would be a shortfall of 130 000 square metres of convention and exhibition venues in Hong Kong at peak periods. The consultant recommended 15 measures for further developing the convention and exhibition industries, maximising venue utilisation and increasing venue capacity. The Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development stated on the 25th of last month that the Government had invited the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC) to work on the preliminary design of one of the recommended measures (i.e. building a convention centre above the Exhibition Station of the Sha Tin to Central Link). Moreover, the Chief Executive proposed in the Policy Address delivered last month that the Wan Chai Sports Ground (WCSG) would be demolished for comprehensive development (comprehensive development plan) in 2019 at the earliest, and TDC would conduct a feasibility study on this proposal. It is learnt that, across the territory, only WCSG and the Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground (TKOSG) meet the venue requirements for holding track and field events of international standards at present, and it is anticipated that the new sports ground to be built in the Kai Tak Sports Park will not be commissioned until 2022. Therefore, some members of the sports community have reservations about the proposed demolition of WCSG. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
 
(1) of the latest progress of the various measures recommended in the consultancy study report (set out in the table below); whether the Government has regularly reviewed the implementation and effectiveness of the various measures;
 
  Recommended measures Latest progress
Measures for further developing the convention and exhibition industries and maximising venue utilisation in the short to medium term 
(to be considered/implemented/achieved in the coming 10 years)
1  
2  
……  
11  
Measures for increasing venue capacity in the medium to long term 
(to be considered/implemented/achieved in the coming 15 years)
12  
……  
15  
 
(2) whether the relevant feasibility study, overall proposal, environmental and traffic impact assessment studies had been completed before the Government invited TDC to work on the preliminary design for building the convention centre; if not, why the Government made the invitation before the completion of the studies; if so, of the organisations that conducted the studies and the expenditure involved, as well as whether the relevant reports can be made public; whether the Government's commissioning of TDC to take charge of the task has gone through an open tendering process; if so, of the details of the tendering work; if not, of the justifications for that; 

(3) whether the Government's commissioning of TDC to conduct a feasibility study on the comprehensive development plan has gone through an open tendering process; if so, of the details of the tendering work; if not, the justifications for that;

(4) of the respective utilisation rates at peak and non-peak seasons as well as the annual overall utilisation rates of WCSG in each of the past 10 years and of TKOSG in each year since its opening in 2009;

(5) whether the new sports ground to be built in the Kai Tak Sports Park will meet the venue requirements for holding track and field events of international standards; given that the new sports ground will only be commissioned a few years after the demolition of WCSG, whether the Government has assessed, during the transitional period, if TKOSG alone can satisfy the demand for venues for holding track and field events of international standards; if it has assessed and the outcome is in the negative, whether the Government has any remedial measures;

(6) as the Government has indicated that it will consider redeveloping the Hong Kong Stadium into a sports ground, whether the Government has formulated an implementation timetable; if so, of the details; if not, why the Government has proposed the demolition of WCSG before it has secured alternative venues; and

(7) whether the Government will consult the sports sector, the academia and the public on its proposals on the demolition of WCSG and the redevelopment of the Hong Kong Stadium; if so, of the details and timetable; whether the Government will postpone or shelve the comprehensive development plan under the circumstances that the sports sector and the academia do not support the demolition of WCSG; if it will not, of the reasons for that?

Reply:
 
President,
 
     After consulting the Home Affairs Bureau (HAB) and Development Bureau, my consolidated reply to the seven parts of the question is as follows:
 
(1) The Government adopted the recommendation of the Working Group on Convention and Exhibition Industries and Tourism under the Economic Development Commission in 2014, and hence commissioned a consultancy study to assess the demand for convention and exhibition (C&E) facilities in Hong Kong for the 15-year period between 2014 and 2028. The result indicates that by 2028 there will be a shortfall of about 130 000 square metres of C&E space in Hong Kong at peak periods. During the discussion between the consultant and stakeholders, the latter made 15 suggestions on how to meet the future demand on C&E facilities. The consultant, having regard to four major considerations, i.e. meeting unmet demand, whether the suggestions could be implemented, whether the Government could involve, and key risks and constraints, and after conducting a quantitative economic impact assessment, put forward to the Government recommendations for the short, medium and long terms that it considered feasible. The consultant's recommendations and the latest progress are tabulated as follows:
 
Consultant's Recommendations Latest Progress
Proposed the Government to create environment to foster new event launches and proactively target conventions and new exhibitions to be held especially during off-peak seasons in the coming years to maximise venue utilisation and to diversify business. Besides, supporting facilities (e.g. hotels and transport) should also be developed especially on Lantau Island to help improve the attractiveness of Hong Kong as a meetings, incentive travels, convention and exhibition (MICE) destination. The Government has all along been promoting the development of MICE industries through making good use of the C&E facilities in Hong Kong, including:
 
(a) the Meetings and Exhibitions Hong Kong Office under the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) is committed to promoting MICE tourism, and has been actively assisting organisations intending to hold international conferences and exhibitions in Hong Kong in their search for suitable venues, and providing them with reference information of suitable locations;
 
(b) HKTB also works closely with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC), Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Industry Association and the major exhibition venues (including the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) and AsiaWorld-Expo (AWE)) to conduct joint market promotion activities in various target cities to attract different organisations to hold events in Hong Kong;
 
(c) since 2014-15, the Government has allocated an annual provision of $15 million to HKTB for three consecutive years to provide more attractive and targeted supporting services and hospitality offers for organisers and participants of MICE events of different scales and types. To continue supporting HKTB's promotion work on this front, starting from 2017-18 onwards, the Government will regularise the aforementioned annual provision of $15 million;
 
(d) HKTB launched a scheme in 2016 to attract more small to medium-sized MICE events to Hong Kong; and
 
(e) the Government has all along been encouraging TDC and other exhibition organisers to adopt the "one show, two venues" or "two shows, two venues" approach in holding exhibitions, so as to make good use of the C&E facilities in Hong Kong. To successfully organise exhibitions under different approaches, there should be close co-ordination between the venue operators and exhibition organisers. Exhibitors and buyers also need time to adapt.
 
In the medium term, proposed that a dedicated convention centre is recommended to be built above the Exhibition Station in Wan Chai North to allow the emerging convention sector to realise its high growth potential and to address strong competition from neighbouring cities. The dedicated convention centre will create operational synergies with HKCEC. The recommendation has been adopted.  The Chief Executive announced in the 2015 Policy Address that a convention centre would be constructed above the Exhibition Station of the Shatin-to-Central Link (SCL) upon the latter's completion in around 2020. At the Government's invitation, TDC is working on the design work.
In the longer run, the Government should explore further provision/ expansion of convention and exhibition space on Lantau Island and/or in other locations (e.g. an integrated development of hotels and convention and exhibition facilities in Kai Tak area), as long as the necessary surrounding supporting facilities (e.g. accommodation, dining, entertainment and transport) are sufficiently provided. To maintain the competitiveness of the C&E industry, the Government has all along been exploring different options to increase the floor area of C&E venues.  Apart from the convention centre to be built above the Exhibition Station of SCL, the West Kowloon Culture District (WKCD) Authority is also considering, as a preliminary idea, the development of a medium-sized multi-purpose venue for exhibition, convention and performance purposes in the western part of the WKCD through private sector financing. As regards AWE on the airport island, land has also been reserved for its expansion.
 
However, we estimate that even with the topside development above the Exhibition Station of SCL, AWE expansion and the C&E facilities in the WKCD, the demand for C&E venues in Hong Kong at peak periods in 2028 can still not be satisfied. Therefore, the Government has to continue to explore other sites for constructing or expanding C&E facilities. In view of the overall development plan of the HAB for sports facilities in Hong Kong, the Government considers that the feasibility of comprehensive development at the Wan Chai Sports Ground (WCSG) site can be examined. The proposal is an initial idea and the Government has not finalised its plan. The Government will consider further when the outcome of the feasibility study is available.
 
(2) In 2012, the Planning Department (PlanD) commissioned a consultant to study the architectural feasibility of development above the Exhibition Station of SCL. The consultancy fee involved was $1.4 million. The purpose of the study is to confirm the initial feasibility of developing convention facilities above the Exhibition Station of SCL, and to amend the relevant Outline Zoning Plan (OZP) to allow the construction of convention centre on the topside. Based on the study result, PlanD submitted the proposed amendments to the Wan Chai North OZP to the Town Planning Board (TPB) in May 2013 to rezone the site of the Exhibition Station of the SCL as "Comprehensive Development Area". The topside is proposed primarily for the provision of convention and meeting facilities and other commercial related uses, together with railway station facilities, a public transport interchange and other supporting facilities. The revised draft OZP was made available for public inspection in May 2013, and it was approved by the Chief Executive in Council in February 2014. The Planning Brief for the concerned "Comprehensive Development Area" was also approved by TPB in July 2014.
 
     In response to the result of the consultancy study as mentioned in part (1) of the reply above, the Chief Executive announced in the 2015 Policy Address that a convention centre would be constructed above the Exhibition Station of SCL upon the latter's completion in around 2020. In view of the Consultant's advice that by 2028 there will be a shortfall of about 130 000 square metres of C&E space in Hong Kong at peak periods, we considered that there is a need to review the scale and design of the topside development with a view to increasing the floor area of the facilities in the development. In this connection, the Government has invited TDC to undertake the design work of the convention centre above the Exhibition Station in 2015.
 
     TDC is a statutory and non-profit-making organisation, with the statutory function to promote, assist and develop Hong Kong's trade with other places. Organising international conventions and exhibitions is one of the effective ways to promote and develop trade.  Conventions and exhibitions organised by TDC have been developed into major C&E activities in the region. Its professional knowledge and experience in promoting the development of services industry are very valuable to planning for new C&E facilities. Therefore, the Government has invited TDC to undertake the relevant design work.
 
(3) As mentioned in part (2) above, TDC is a statutory and non-profit-making organisation. Its professional knowledge in organising conventions and exhibitions and experience in promoting the development of the services industry are very valuable to planning for new C&E facilities. Therefore, the Government has invited TDC to undertake the feasibility study of the comprehensive development of WCSG.
 
(4) The Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground (TKOSG) provides venue to the Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association (HKAAA) for training Hong Kong representative teams. WCSG is the designated training venue of HKAAA. The athletics facilities of the two sports grounds conform to Classes I and II under the List of Certified Athletics Facilities by International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) respectively and are suitable for local or regional athletics competitions organised by HKAAA.
 
     TKOSG has been opened for public use since January 2010 after serving as the venue for athletics events in the 2009 East Asian Games. Apart from being hired by national sports associations (NSAs), schools or local organisations for athletics meets, training and competitions, it is also used by members of the public for jogging. The average usage rate of TKOSG was 95 per cent in 2010 and its usage rate reached 100 per cent between 2011 and 2016.
 
     Opened in 1979, the facilities of WCSG are mainly for use by schools, NSAs and organisations for athletics meets, competitions and training activities and are not open for jogging by the public. The overall average usage rate of WCSG was 90 per cent in the past 10 years (2007-2016).
 
     The breakdown of the usage rates of TKOSG and WCSG by year is at Annex.
 
(5) The public sports ground at the proposed Kai Tak Sports Park (KTSP) with a seating capacity of 5 000 will provide athletics facilities meeting international standards, which include a standard 400-metre athletics track, a warm-up track and facilities for field events. It will be suitable for local and regional athletics events and training. Being the only sports ground conforming to Class I under the List of Certified Athletics Facilities by IAAF, TKOSG is the usual venue for holding international athletics events staged in Hong Kong.
 
(6) and (7) Subject to the funding approval of the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council within this legislative year, the construction works of the KTSP is expected to complete in 2022. As the Main Stadium of the KTSP will have a seating capacity of 50 000, we need to consider the future role of the Hong Kong Stadium. We shall conduct a technical feasibility study on its redevelopment, including changing it to a public sports ground equipped with athletics track and reducing the existing seating capacity. We will complete the technical feasibility study the coming five years (i.e. before 2022) and consult the concerned district council(s), sports sector and other stakeholders.
 
     Regarding the proposal to use WCSG for comprehensive development as announced in the Policy Address, TDC will conduct a feasibility study. We are aware of the sports sector's concern about the proposal, and will continue to listen to the views of different sectors and carry out consultation. The Government will take into account findings of the feasibility study and views collected in contemplating the next step ahead.

Ends/Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Issued at HKT 14:39

Annex PDF