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CE's speech at joint opening ceremony of HKCEC Atrium Expansion and HK Book Fair (English only)(with photos/video)

     Following is the speech delivered by the Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, at the joint opening ceremony of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre Atrium Expansion and the 20th Hong Kong Book Fair this morning (July 22):

Mr Liu, Jack (So), Peter (Woo), Fred (Lam), all my friends on the front row, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning. It gives me the greatest pleasure to join you for the opening ceremony of the Atrium Link Expansion of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC).  

     The meetings and exhibitions industry plays a significant role in maintaining Hong Kong's position as a leading international business centre. International trade fairs also make an important contribution to our economy, bringing new trade and visitors to our city. At the same time, Hong Kong's world-class infrastructure and business-friendly environment provide a very attractive platform for these world-class events - it's a winning arrangement for all parties involved. We must spare no effort in making Asia's world city even more competitive, even more attractive.

     Back in 2005, the Government gave full support to the HKCEC Atrium Link Expansion project. Since then, we have worked closely with the TDC (Trade Development Council) in facilitating the project during its planning and construction phases.  The completion of this huge expansion in less than three years demanded unmatched efficiency, creative planning, innovative engineering and seamless co-ordination. It marks another outstanding example of the "can-do" spirit of Hong Kong people and I am very happy to witness the fruit of these efforts.   

     We now organise two of the world's biggest trade shows, and eight of Asia's biggest trade shows, of their respective kinds. As Jack said, there is even greater potential for further expansion. The Atrium Link Expansion boosts HKCEC's total exhibition space by 42%, or 19,000 square metres - equivalent to an extra 1,000 exhibition booths. I've heard clearly from Jack as well, this paled into insignificance when compared to what even one casino is able to offer in our neighbour. Another question is quality, at the end of the day, and clientele and networking. But we should never be complacent and space is a challenge and something which we must meet. With an expanded Atrium Link, I am sure there will be even more Hong Kong "mega fairs" set to become the "No.1 shows" in their industry sectors.

     Today is also the opening day of the 20th Hong Kong Book Fair here at HKCEC. This successful event - organised by the TDC - continues to go from strength to strength. More than just a book fair, it has established itself as a platform for cultural exchange, an occasion for communication and education as well as commerce. As one of the world's major printing and publishing hubs - and as Asia's world city - Hong Kong is a logical choice for this important fair. Events such as this also form an integral part of our expanding creative industry, and I wish this year's book fair every success.

     In closing, I would like to assure you that continued investment in high quality convention and exhibition infrastructure, soft as well as hard, forms a key part of our strategy. The Government and the TDC are actively examining the case for a Phase 3 expansion of the HKCEC. It appears, according to my colleagues, that we will have to move existing government buildings and public facilities to make room for the extension. For this purpose, we need to consult the public on the way ahead and balance the interests involved, but I think so far the TDC has made a very strong case and we have to consider very carefully. The option remains open and Phase 3 remains my dream.
     To stay competitive in today's tough marketplace we must avoid complacency, and to boost trade and commerce we must assist the industry in hosting more international conventions and exhibitions in Hong Kong. Working together, we can make this sector even bigger and stronger in the years to come.

     Thank you very much.

Ends/Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Issued at HKT 12:53


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