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CRUCIAL EXPANSION OF CEC A STEP CLOSER "Wonderful news", says TDC Chairman

Hong Kong's mega trade fairs are closer to becoming number one in the world, with the Government's decision to support a proposed expansion of the Convention and Exhibition Centre (CEC), in Wanchai.

Responding to today's (Thursday) announcement of policy support for the project, Trade Development Council Chairman Peter Woo said:

"Government's prompt policy support for this outstanding Hong Kong project is wonderful news indeed. We face rapidly rising external competition in our time zone and we need to move fast."

"The trade fair business is about building critical mass in our marketplace. It's about pulling in the greatest number of exhibitors and buyers faster than your competitors can. This is urgent!

There are further hurdles to jump. TDC will submit its CEC expansion proposal to the Town Planning Board next week.

Mr Woo said that seven TDC mega fairs could be number one in the world, along with others staged here by private organisers.

"All that's holding them back is that the existing CEC capacity is not enough. Hundreds of exhibitors are on waiting lists for Hong Kong's largest fairs.

"We must not slip and lose this opportunity. This is a 'win' project for Hong Kong. We as a community must push it forward as soon as possible. We cannot afford to lose time."

According to TDC's fast-track timetable, the prestigious downtown landmark exhibition facility will have about 40 per cent more exhibition space by 2009. "This will bring us, in total, to almost 1 million square feet (around 84,000 square metres) of badly needed space," Mr Woo said.

The CEC expansion will generate billions of dollars in additional economic benefit for Hong Kong over the long term and create tens of thousands of jobs.

"Trade fairs are highly significant in job creation," said Mr Woo.

"More critical mass will bring more business and more demand for Hong Kong's value-added services, which means more jobs. Hong Kong's platform will be even more powerful as a result. It is critical to stay ahead of other competitors."

"It is about the art of the possible," said Mr Woo.

"Without new reclamation, the expansion can be done almost within the CEC's existing envelope to preserve the environmental integrity of this special site.

"Without costing taxpayers a cent, the HK$1.3 billion project will be financed independently by TDC utilizing both internal and external resources," Mr Woo said.

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For press enquiries, please call Lawrence Yau of TDC's Corporate and Media Communication Department at 2584 4510, or email at Lawrence.yau@tdc.org.hk

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