Hong Kong exhibition and convention industry plea for more support

The Hong Kong exhibition and convention industry is calling for more government support to help it through the COVID-19 downturn.

The call from the Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Industry Association (HKECIA) follows its latest member survey which showed nine out of 10 (91 per cent) respondents say that the Subsidy Scheme with a commitment of HK$1,020 million to subsidise participants and organisers of convention and exhibition activities was insufficient.

Part of the Subsidy Scheme subsidises private organisers of exhibitions and international conventions to the tune of 100 per cent of the rental for events held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and AsiaWorld-Expo.

Due to the third wave of COVID-19 in Hong Kong, there are further postponements or cancellations of public exhibitions originally scheduled for this summer, with the start day of the Subsidy Scheme (originally 24 July 2020) deferred by the government without a new start day. No event organiser has received any subsidy under the Subsidy Scheme so far.

Some of the key findings of the report include 98 per cent of respondents claim that the impact of Covid-19 on their business is either severe or extremely severe; 89 per cent of organiser respondents and 59 per cent of non-organiser project more than 12 months for their business to recover; and all organisers respondents project a loss of revenue in year 2020 with 36 per cent of them projecting a loss of over HK$100 million in 2020.

From the 18 organiser respondents alone, 52 exhibitions and conferences have been cancelled or postponed and these events expected to draw over 54,000 exhibiting companies and over 3.4 million of visitors.

“Only four small-scale consumer exhibitions took place from February to July,” said HKECIA chairman Stuart Bailey.

“All other exhibitions and conventions scheduled to take place have not been held. No event being held means that there has been zero cash generated by organisers, venues, and suppliers to the industry.

“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 we have yet to reach. We urge the government to provide immediate and additional financial assistance for event organisers and event related service providers.

“Apart from immediate financial assistance, we seek clarity from the government on matters relating to travel restrictions, and to demand much greater transparency around the reviews of the compulsory quarantine arrangements for countries and regions that have a good record against the pandemic.”