, Hong Kong

Government urged to aid Hong Kong convention and exhibition industry

45% of industry players are in danger of closing down.

The Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Industry Association (HKECIA) has urged the government to lend aid to the convention and exhibition industry after presenting the results of its latest member survey "Impact of Covid-19 to Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Industry 2021."

HKECIA urged the authorities to repurpose the fund of the Convention and Exhibition Industry Subsidy Scheme (Subsidy Scheme) and to provide a roadmap of relaxing compulsory quarantine requirements for qualified business travellers and warned that 45% of industry players are at risk to close down in the next 12 months.

In its latest member survey, 136 exhibitions and conferences have been cancelled or postponed since February 2020 and these events are expected to draw over 99,000 exhibiting companies and over 4.8 million visitors. Meanwhile, 93% of respondents claim that the impact of COVID-19 on their business is severe or extremely severe.

All the respondents project a loss by the end of 2021, with 37% of event organisers and 29% of non-event organisers projecting a loss of over $50m in 2021.

Despite government subsidy, 55% of respondents said they did not benefit from the Subsidy Scheme as they were not able to run international trade fairs or conferences whilst 66% of non-event organisers claim that the two rounds of the government’s Anti-Epidemic Fund in 2020 did not provide sufficient assistance as there was no direct funding for contractors, logistics, and service providers. The operating cost and warehouse rental are high and were not covered by the Anti-Epidemic Fund.

HKECIA is calling for the government’s immediate financial assistance from the local convention and exhibition industry players struggling to survive over the effects of COVID-19.

“The convention and exhibition industry, which contributed over $58b to Hong Kong’s economy in 2018, has been in deep water since February 2020 as no international event was able to be held in Hong Kong due to travel restrictions and preventive measures. Only small-scale consumer exhibitions resumed," HKECIA Chairman Stuart Bailey said.

"The Subsidy Scheme, however, is only able to assist the convention and exhibition sector once it is practicable for events to resume, a point which trade fair organisers have yet to reach. We urge the government to repurpose the Subsidy Scheme and provide immediate and additional financial assistance for event-related service providers. Our industry also needs a roadmap to prepare for a strong revival,” Bailey added.

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