Following is a speech (English only) by the Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology, Mr John Tsang, at the Ground-breaking Ceremony for AsiaWorld-Expo this (March 29) morning:
Mr (Olivier Marie) Racine, Mr (Tony) Fung, Dr (David) Pang, Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished Guests,
Good morning. It is a great pleasure for me to officiate at the ground-breaking ceremony for AsiaWorld-Expo, the new exhibition centre that is being built right here at the world's leading international airport in Asia's world city.
Today marks the beginning of the construction for a world-class centre that will contribute significantly to Hong Kong's position as Asia-Pacific's convention and exhibition hub. I would like to congratulate all the joint venture partners on this very important milestone.
AsiaWorld-Expo is a joint venture between government, Airport Authority and a private sector consortium led by Dragages. It is an excellent example of public-private partnership that promises to provide enormous benefits to the economy of Hong Kong. The government and the private sector participants will pay for the construction costs, while the Airport Authority will contribute the land for the new exhibition centre.
The government will be investing $2 billion in the project, which is expected to generate economic benefits of more than $10 billion over a 25-year period, and create good employment opportunities for the local workforce.
Together with other planned or proposed large-scale infrastructural projects on Lantau, such as Disneyland, the Tung Chung Cable Car, the HK-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge and a Value Added Logistics Park, AsiaWorld-Expo will transform this island into the prime location for sustainable economic and infrastructural developments in the coming decade.
AsiaWorld-Expo will provide the largest column-free exhibition hall in Hong Kong. Its phase 1 development of 66,000 square metres will be completed for full operation in the first quarter of 2006. The facility is capable of further expansion to 100,000 square metres of exhibition space in response to future market demand.
Asia World-Expo's large and open exhibition space on one level not only makes it an excellent venue for trade and public exhibitions of all types, but also enables it to attract large public shows and large-scale entertainment events and conferences. Its location adjacent to an airport with connections to more than 140 cities worldwide also ensures maximum convenience and accessibility for users from all over the world.
AsiaWorld-Expo will be a timely complement to the excellent facilities that we already have at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Together, they will ensure that Hong Kong has the full capability of providing top quality facilities for the staging of a wide range of world-class exhibitions.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Hong Kong is the premier location for international exhibitions in the region. I am sure that AsiaWorld-Expo will take our convention and exhibition business to a new level of excellence, and it will cement our position as the trade fair capital and the best international business centre in the Asia-Pacific.
I look forward to joining all of you at AsiaWorld-Expo's first event in less than two years' time. May I wish you every success in this project. Hong Kong stands to benefit from your good work.
Ends/Monday, March 29, 2004