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LCQ17: Measures to support convention and exhibition industry
     Following is a question by the Hon Vincent Cheng and a written reply by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Edward Yau, in the Legislative Council today (December 9):


     The exhibition industry has brought considerable benefits to Hong Kong. For example, in 2016, the exhibition industry contributed $52.9 billion to Hong Kong in expenditure effects, equivalent to 2.1 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product, and provided 77 000 full-time jobs. The exhibition industry, under the impact of the epidemic, has come to a standstill for nearly one year and, as a result, the organisers of exhibitions, exhibitors and practitioners of the industry have suffered tremendous losses and some companies are on the verge of closing down. However, among the three rounds of relief measures launched by the Government, only one measure is directly related to the exhibition industry: the Convention and Exhibition Industry Subsidy Scheme (the Subsidy Scheme). Under the Scheme, the Government will provide a 100 per cent venue rental subsidy for organisers of those exhibitions held/to be held during the period from October 3 this year to October 2 next year at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) and the AsiaWorld-Expo (AWE). Regarding the measures to support the exhibition industry, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether it knows the respective numbers of exhibitions that were not held as scheduled at (i) HKCEC and (ii) AWE since February this year, and set out, by exhibition name, the original exhibition dates and the latest status (cancelled or postponed);

(2) whether it knows the names and details of the various exhibitions scheduled to be held next year at (i) HKCEC and (ii) AWE; the latest details of the various exhibitions held/to be held at those two venues this month (including the number of exhibitors);

(3) whether it has requested the managers of HKCEC and AWE to formulate contingency plans to specify the measures to be taken, when more exhibitions need to be postponed or cancelled due to the epidemic, to reduce the losses suffered by the organisers, exhibitors and practitioners concerned;

(4) as it has been reported that a certain number of large-scale international exhibitions originally scheduled to be held in the fourth quarter of this year have been postponed to the fourth quarter of next year, and the Subsidy Scheme only covers the exhibitions held/to be held during the period from October 3 this year to October 2 next year, whether the authorities will extend the period covered by the Subsidy Scheme by three months, so that such international exhibitions may benefit; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(5) as the Chief Executive indicated in the 2020 Policy Address that the Government would expand the funding scope of the SME Export Marketing Fund to provide funding support for institutions with proven track record to organise large-scale exhibitions targeting "the local market" or virtual exhibitions, of the specific details such as the relevant eligibility requirements and the amount of funding support, as well as the implementation timetable; and

(6) as some members of the exhibition industry have anticipated that the exhibition industry will need at least two years to fully recover, of the authorities' measures to (i) support the practitioners of the exhibition industry and the related trades, and (ii) ensure that upon resumption of economic growth in various countries, Hong Kong’s position in the international exhibition industry will not be taken by the neighbouring cities?



     The convention and exhibition (C&E) industry is vital to Hong Kong as an international business and trading centre. On the one hand, it promotes the development of the overall economy, trading as well as the product and services industries. At the same time, it brings additional economic activities and employment opportunities to Hong Kong by attracting high-spending overnight business visitors to Hong Kong and driving the development of the tourism, retail, catering and entertainment industries. This year, the volatile development of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought severe challenges to all industries, including the C&E industry.

     The Government is taking forward various measures with a view to reinvigorating Hong Kong's reputation as an international premier C&E hub when the epidemic situation is contained.

     Regarding the question raised by the Hon Vincent Cheng, our reply is as follows:

(1)  According to the information provided by the management companies of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) and AsiaWorld-Expo (AWE), the numbers of postponed or cancelled C&E events that were originally scheduled for February to November 2020 are set out below. Only a small number of the events have confirmed postponement with the relevant announcement made (e.g. the Hong Kong Book Fair), and the organisers of the majority of them are in liaison with the venue management companies and have not yet decided on the subsequent arrangements.
  Postponed or cancelled C&E events that were originally scheduled for February to November 2020
Conventions Exhibitions
HKCEC 170 68
AWE 80 46

     Since the details of the aforementioned postponed or cancelled C&E events involve commercial considerations of individual organisers and their negotiation with the venue management companies, we are not able to list out the names, details and subsequent arrangements of each event.

(2)  According to the information provided by the management companies of HKCEC and AWE, as at November 30, the numbers of C&E events scheduled for 2021 with venue booked are set out below. Some of the advertised events include 50+ Expo and Hong Kong Computer & Communications Festival, which will be held at HKCEC.
  Events scheduled for 2021 with venue booked
Conventions Exhibitions
HKCEC 80 125
AWE 62 61

     The numbers above only reflect the venue-booking situation as at November 30. Most of the above events are still under planning and are subject to change according to the latest development of the epidemic situation. Since there is still uncertainty in the overall situation of C&E events in Hong Kong in 2021, we cannot make an accurate estimate of the number of exhibitors involved. We are also not able to list out the details of the above C&E events since they involve commercial considerations of individual organisers.

     Furthermore, as at November 30, there were 10 exhibitions scheduled for December 2020 with venue booked at HKCEC. However, in view of the severe epidemic situation, we understand that the event organisers concerned, having considered the latest development of the epidemic situation and the Government's anti-epidemic measures, have discussed arrangements with the venue management companies in light of their individual circumstances. Most of the C&E events originally scheduled for December in HKCEC may have to be cancelled or postponed. As for AWE, no C&E events will be held in December this year.

(3)  Both the management companies of HKCEC and AWE have drawn up their respective contingency plans to provide greater flexibility for organisers of C&E events under the epidemic situation. The management companies will make special arrangements according to the development of the epidemic situation, the prevailing anti-epidemic measures and the circumstances of individual events, such as allowing exhibition organisers to postpone events subject to availability of venue slots, making flexible setting-up and moving-out arrangements, and relaxing setup restrictions of the exhibition venue, etc.

(4)  The Government established the Convention and Exhibition Industry Subsidy Scheme under the Anti-epidemic Fund with a total commitment of $1,020 million, and the Subsidy Scheme has been launched. The Subsidy Scheme has two parts. One part of it subsidises organisers of exhibitions and international conventions held at HKCEC and AWE 100 per cent of the venue rental; and the other part subsidises all exhibitors of exhibitions organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) and participants of its major conventions 50 per cent of their participation fees. The Subsidy Scheme was originally planned to last for 12 months. To encourage more C&E events to be held in Hong Kong, we announced on November 15 that the entire Subsidy Scheme would be extended to December 31, 2021.

(5)  To support enterprises in conducting "local market" promotion activities through both online and offline exhibitions, the Government proposes to extend the funding scope of the SME Export Marketing Fund, from specifically aiming at markets outside Hong Kong to also covering large-scale exhibitions held by organisations with good track records targeting at the "local market", as well as virtual exhibitions organised by HKTDC and reputable exhibition organisers with good track records, for a period of two years. At the same time, the eligibility will no longer be restricted to small and medium enterprises only. The funding ceilings per enterprise and per application remain unchanged at $800,000 and $100,000 respectively. We plan to seek approval from the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council in early 2021 for implementation of the new support measure as soon as practicable.

(6)  We hope that the launch of the Convention and Exhibition Industry Subsidy Scheme can attract major C&E events to be held in Hong Kong when the epidemic situation has stabilised, so as to benefit the industry and all related personnel. Overall speaking, while the epidemic brings challenges to the C&E industry, we consider that the industry's demand for physical exhibitions remains strong in the long run. Therefore, to consolidate and strengthen our status as the international premier C&E and sourcing centre, the Chief Executive has announced in the Policy Address this year that the Government will continue to take forward two plans to expand major C&E facilities, i.e. the redevelopment of the three government towers in Wan Chai North and the Kong Wan Fire Station into C&E facilities, hotel and Grade A office, as well as the construction of phase two of AWE on the airport island. These two projects together will increase C&E space by more than 40 per cent.
Ends/Wednesday, December 9, 2020
Issued at HKT 15:00
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