Following is a speech by the Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology, Mr John Tsang, at the Roof Jack-up Ceremony of AsiaWorld-Expo this morning (January 17) (English only):
Mr Benoit de Ruffray, Mr Tony Fung, Mr Nicolas Borit, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning to you all.
It is my great pleasure to be here with you this morning toasting this major milestone of the AsiaWorld-Expo, the new international exhibition centre that is being built right next to one of the world's busiest international airports.
Today's ceremony marks an important step forward in the development of a state-of-the-art facility that will go a long way in consolidating Hong Kong's position as Asia-Pacific's convention and exhibition hub. I was here barely a year ago witnessing AsiaWorld-Expo's ground breaking. I am glad to be back again, and I note that construction works have been progressing smoothly. As a student of architecture I am also impressed with the technique with which the roof has been erected. I know this is the first time such a technique is used in Hong Kong. I would like to thank our joint venture partners, the Airport Authority and the private sector consortium, for all their efforts in making sure that the project is well on track.
Phase 1 development of this new exhibition centre, comprising 66,000 square metres of exhibition space, is about to be completed towards the end of this year, and the new facility will come into full operation by early 2006. The capacity is capable of further expansion to 100,000 square metres to meet market demand.
With the largest column-free exhibition space in Hong Kong, AsiaWorld-Expo is not only an excellent site for trade and other exhibitions, but is also ideal for large public shows and entertainment events. You will be able to see this at first hand when you tour the facilities later on after this ceremony. And I need not stress more its unique advantages in being close to an airport which has connections to over 100 major cities of the world, and is well served by an airport railway which takes you to Central in just over 20 minutes. I am sure you have enjoyed the trial train ride on the way here. We all look forward to the timely completion of AsiaWorld-Expo, which will enhance the leading edge of Hong Kong's convention and exhibition industry amid a fast-growing but keenly competitive market in the region. It is incumbent upon us the Government, the exhibition organisers, the venue operators and the other players to work closely together to meet the new challenges in this exciting industry.
Indeed, I am glad to see that AsiaWorld-Expo's management has already had much success in establishing an impressive calendar of events to take place in this venue. They have already confirmed the bookings of 15 international exhibitions in 2006, including the ITU TELECOM WORLD, the Olympics of the international telecommunications industry. This is the first time that the ITU TELECOM WORLD has moved outside its home base in Geneva since 1971. The availability of a first-class facility is certainly one of the key factors leading to our successful bid for the event.
With other planned projects in the vicinity, including Disneyland, the Tung Chung Cable Car, the HK-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and a Value Added Logistics Park, AsiaWorld-Expo will help underline Lantau as a prime location for sustainable economic and infrastructural development in Hong Kong in the coming decade, from which we shall all benefit immensely.
Ends/Monday, January 17, 2005