13 April 2016
Convention and Exhibition Industry in Hong Kong
- Being the world's 8th largest trading economy, Hong Kong has developed into a premier convention and exhibition centre in the region. As a free port with superb air connectivity at the heart of Asia, exhibits, exhibitors and visitors can move into Hong Kong conveniently, making the territory a preferred location in staging international conventions and exhibitions.
- The city’s main MICE venues include the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) in the main business district, the AsiaWorld-Expo (AWE) near the airport and the Hong Kong International Trade and Exhibition Centre in Kowloon Bay.
- Hong Kong was crowned as the “Best Business City in the World” at the 2014 Business Traveller Asia-Pacific Travel Awards, and named the “Best City for Business Events” in the 2015 CEI Industry Survey organised by the prominent MICE publication CEI Asia magazine.
- The Mainland and Hong Kong governments signed the Agreement on Trade in Services in December 2015 in respect of applying liberalisation measures for Hong Kong service suppliers and professionals on the mainland from June 2016.
More than 50 venues in various sizes are available in Hong Kong for exhibitions and conventions. The main venues for MICE events are the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) in the main business district, the AsiaWorld-Expo (AWE) near the airport and the Hong Kong International Trade and Exhibition Centre in Kowloon Bay. Total available exhibition space in Hong Kong now exceeds 150,000 sqm. In 2015, Hong Kong hosted more than 100 exhibitions, with more than 1.7 million overseas overnight MICE visitors. In Hong Kong, the HKTDC organises more than 30 exhibitions a year, forming 11 leading marketplaces of their kind in Asia, of which Electronics, Jewellery, Gifts, Watches & Clocks and Lighting are world-leading.
Hong Kong has received worldwide recognition as one of the best destinations for MICE and business travellers. In 2014, Hong Kong was named as the “Best Business City in the World” at the 2014 Business Traveller Asia-Pacific Travel Awards. It was awarded the Best City for Business Events in CEI’s Industry Survey 2015 organised by CEI Asia magazine, which has listed HKCEC and AWE among the top three venues in Asia, a powerful testament to Hong Kong’s status as a world-class MICE destination.
With the tight supply of exhibition spaces at HKCEC and AWE during peak seasons, the government commissioned a consultancy study in 2014 to assess the demand for convention and exhibition facilities in Hong Kong over the next 15 years. One of the recommendations made by the consultancy study is to construct new facilities. In the 2015 Policy Address, the Chief Executive announced that the government will consider constructing a new convention centre above the Exhibition Station of the Shatin to Central Link around 2020.
The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) has launched MEHK since 2008 to offer one-stop professional support to MICE organisers choosing Hong Kong as a destination for meetings and exhibitions. Such services include publicity, visitor promotion, coordination of site inspection, facilitation in securing local dignitary as officiating guest and liaison with government departments. As recognition of MEHK’s quality services, HKTB was ranked second in the CEI’s Industry Survey 2015 for “Best Convention Bureau”.
To tackle the shortage of space at HKCEC during the peak seasons, the government since 2009 has promoted “one show, two locations” approach - holding one show in both HKCEC and AWE. With assistance offered by the government, such as free shuttle bus services, the September Hong Kong Jewellery and Gem Fair, for example, has successfully adopted the approach since 2009. Exhibitors and participants recorded respective growth rates of 21% and 51% from 2009 to 2014.
A wide variety of service companies are involved in the convention and exhibition industry, including event organisers, stand constructors, insurance companies, freight forwarders, travel agents and hotels. However, the central role played by event organisers in bringing together all these services makes them the most important industry service providers.
Exhibitions are broadly divided into two kinds: trade fairs and consumer fairs. The former targets buyers in specific industries operating largely on a B-to-B basis, while the latter is open to the public, thereby targeting primarily the local market. Well recognised as a regional trade hub, Hong Kong succeeds in attracting a lot of overseas exhibitors and buyers to attend the city’s trade shows, with attendees able to enjoy an international exposure within the show.
Some exhibition organisers also provide a one-stop-shop solution by organising, additionally, conferences and seminars, also bundling other side events to supplement the exhibitions. The main function of the supplementary events is to provide a holistic platform for the participants to have an exchange on recent industry developments and market information.
Currently there are over 100 exhibition service providers offering specialised or integrated exhibition services. Some of the major international event organisers set up their regional headquarters in Hong Kong, which look after events organised in Hong Kong and on the Chinese mainland. In general, the larger international organisations have a wide variety of shows whereas the smaller organisers tend to specialise in organising similar shows in different locations.
Apart from activities organised in the territory, Hong Kong's convention and exhibition organisers are also active in arranging their exhibitors to exhibit overseas. While the Chinese mainland is a priority, organisers are also actively looking for locations to organise their trade and exhibition events. Locations include not only those in developed markets, but also developing markets like the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
In coping with the continual increase in inbound tourists, Hong Kong has seen parallel growth in hotel room supply. As at January 2016, there were 254 hotels offering 74,290 rooms at different price levels compared with 167 hotels and 59,627 rooms in end-2009, increasing by 52% and 25% respectively. The Land Sale Programme in the 2016/17 fiscal year will include another three sites for hotel development, adding about 2,100 rooms.
Exports of Services
A main source of export income from the convention and exhibition industry is the spending by overseas participants to events held in Hong Kong.
According to the latest available figures from the Economic Impact Study commissioned by the Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Industry Association (HKECIA), the exhibition industry contributed HK$40.8 billion (US$5.2 billion) to Hong Kong's economy in 2012 (equivalent to 2.0% of Hong Kong’s GDP), up 14% from 2010.
The exhibition industry's activities during 2012 were estimated to have provided an employment equivalent to 69,600 full-time jobs across a number of related industries, up 0.7% from 69,150 in 2010. The expenditure and employment opportunities generated by the exhibition industry benefit not just the industry players such as venue operators, exhibition organisers and stand contractors, but also advertising, hotels, retail, food and beverages sectors.
According to 2013 Hong Kong Exhibition Survey by Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Industry Association (HKECIA), the performance of the industry grew steadily, with both international and regional companies expanding to Hong Kong. In 2014, the number of exhibiting companies in Hong Kong increased by 6.5% to reach 66,164. The number of exhibition visitors grew 5.8% to 1.9 million, the numbers of international ad regional visitors increased by 9.9% and 9.6% respectively.
The Mainland-Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership (CEPA)
After ten annual Supplements to keep widening and broadening the liberalisation measures in favour of HKSS, Hong Kong and the mainland entered into a subsidiary agreement under CEPA in 2014 to achieve basic liberalisation of trade in service trade in Guangdong (“Guangdong Agreement”). This was then followed in December 2015 by the Agreement on Trade in Services (“ATIS”) to extend the coverage of the 2014 agreement from Guangdong to the rest of the mainland. Unlike the Supplements which adopted a positive-list approach to introducing liberalisation measures, the two latest CEPA agreements adopt a hybrid approach to granting preferential access to Hong Kong using both positive and negative lists.
The ATIS, which covers and consolidates commitments relating to liberalisation of trade in services provided in CEPA and its Supplements and also the Guangdong Agreement, will be implemented from June 2016. There is no reserved restriction for HKSS under the negative list. Regarding the positive list, Hong Kong service suppliers (HKSS) are allowed to provide, in the form of wholly owned operations, convention services and exhibition services on the mainland. Operations set up by HKSS on the mainland, in the form of wholly owned enterprises or joint ventures, are also allowed to undertake the relevant businesses in Hong Kong and Macau.
Further, HKSS are allowed to organise exhibitions, in the form of cross-border supply, in the Guangdong Province, Shanghai Municipality, Beijing Municipality, Tianjin Municipality, Chongqing Municipality, Zhejiang Province, Jiangsu Province, Fujian Province, Jiangxi Province, Hunan Province, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Hainan Province, Sichuan Province, Guizhou Province and Yunnan Province on a pilot basis, measures previously covered by CEPA Supplements IV and VI. In addition, contractual service providers employed by HKSS, are allowed to provide services under this sector or sub-sector on the mainland in the mode of the mode of movement of natural persons, a measure originally covered by Supplement X. Details of the preferential access concerning the convention and exhibition services sector can be found at this website.
As of February 2016, 23 HKSS certificates in the convention and exhibition sector had been issued by the Hong Kong government.