The Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Industry Association (HKECIA), first incorporated in May 1990, is celebrating its 26th year in 2016. The Association currently has 106 members, making it a truly representative voice for the exhibition and convention industries. Our commitment over the years has been to act as a unified voice that represents and promotes the industry and increases awareness of the contribution it has made to our wider society, as well as one that supports members in areas such as professional development, business networking and information exchange.
One of the important tasks of the Association is handling the annual exhibition survey, a valuable tool widely used by members, the government, the media, the business sector and the wider community to understand trends and developments in the exhibition industry. Benchmarking the survey findings with similar surveys conducted by other Asian cities gives us a valuable ‘big picture’ of where Hong Kong stands in the region.
The exhibition survey for 2015 showed that the Hong Kong exhibition industry achieved steady, moderate growth over 2014. Key indicators were all positive, including such indicators as exhibiting company numbers, visitor numbers, and rental revenue generated from exhibiting companies. In regard to trade and trade & consumer exhibitions, the number of exhibiting companies grew from 66,164 to 67,019, up by 1.3%, while the number of visitors increased by 12.9% to almost 2.2 million. These figures are encouraging, and support the requests we have been making for more exhibition space to be provided in Hong Kong. I would again like to thank the Communications Sub-committee for making this important survey possible, along with all those of our members who contributed data.
During the past 12 months, the HKECIA continued to maintain close relationships with exhibition organisations in different cities of Mainland China. Delegations from Mainland organisations were welcomed from Hainan, Ningbo, Foshan and Dalian. Representatives from the Association also participated in a number of major exhibition events in China, including CEFCO in Yichuen and the International Exhibition Logistics Association Summit that both took place in January 2016, the Inter-City Cooperation Development Forum in Guangzhou in February 2016, and the Annual General Meeting of the China Exhibition Research Association in Zhuhai in April 2016.
HKECIA members have a particular interest in venue development in China. The China Sub-committee has been following closely and monitoring the progress of the 500,000 sqm China National Exhibition and Convention Centre in Shanghai and the new exhibition centres in the neighbouring cities of Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Foshan.
The Communications Sub-committee successfully handled the extensive work associated with producing the 6th edition of the Economic Impact Study 2014 as well as managing the Annual Exhibition Survey 2015, while at the same time maintaining a busy schedule of day to day activities. The report of the Economic Impact Study 2014 is underway and the results will be announced soon. It has provided valuable regular support to the Association in areas such as media relations, press interviews, and chairman’s speeches, and it also delivered editorial support for the production of the HKECIA 25th anniversary book. The sub-committee also supported the Special Committee on Venue Development by assisting with the preparation of positioning papers and correspondence for government officials and stakeholders.
The Education and Training Sub-committee successfully organised the annual HKECIA Annual Seminar in December, which attracted around 95, under the theme “Transforming Your Trade Shows”. Mr John Blaskey, founder and Managing Director of The Exhibiting Agency Ltd and Mr Tom Mehrmann, Chief Executive of Ocean Park Hong Kong, each delivered inspiring speeches at the event. The sub-committee will continue to explore suitable education and training opportunities to benefit members and welcomes members to share their ideas for topics and speakers.
“Sustainability” has remained the focus of the Exhibition Operations Sub-committee, which involves activities that make for the safer running of events in Hong Kong, and reduce the environmental impact of these events.
Many Hong Kong events have limited move-in move-out times, making maintaining safe working practices a challenge. In the past year the sub-committee has been involved in discussions with stakeholders to improve the quality of ladders used and the working methods of ladder users, as “falls from height” are the number one cause of serious accidents. A number of organisers are also now reducing the height of raw space stands, which is significantly reducing the risk of these serious accidents.
Reduced stand heights also help reduce the environmental impact of our events, given that a percentage of stand material still ends up in Hong Kong landfills after shows close. In addition, less material means fewer trucks are needed to transport material to and from the venues, reducing vehicle pollution and road congestion issues directly linked to our events.
The Membership Sub-committee continued to work on creating networking opportunities for members and supporting Association events such as the annual dinner and seminars.
As of April 2016, the Association had 69 full members, 26 associate members and 11 overseas members, making a total of 106 members.
In 2015, the sub-committee helped organise a Christmas networking cocktail and industry seminar which was attended by 95 members, along with the HKECIA 25th anniversary annual dinner, attended by 466 members and guests.
The Association has been actively involved in a number of valuable activities over the year, and I would like to mention some of the most significant here.
– The 25th HKECIA Annual Dinner was held on 30 June with great success, attracting 466 participants
– In October 2015, a delegation of 14 members of the HKECIA attended the 20th Macao International Trade And Investment Fair (MIF) and the 8th Guangzhou/Hong Kong/Macao Exhibition Industry Cooperation Forum in Macau
– Also in October 2015, former Chairman Javed Khan and 15 members attended the Ningbo – Hong Kong Economic Cooperation Forum held at the HKCEC. Javed delivered a speech on the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition industry and the potential collaboration between Hong Kong and Ningbo.
– In November 2015, , Stanley Chu on behalf of the HKECIA delivered a speech at the UFI Congress in Milan during the networking lunch on the opening day. There were 450 participants from 265 companies at this Congress.
– In December 2015, the annual chairman’s Golf day at Sai Kung Kau Sai Chau was successfully organised, participants enjoyed a fun day of sport and networking.
– In April 2016 I was invited to deliver a welcome speech to an audience of government and MICE industry professionals at a Symposium on Hainan Convention and Exhibition Industry Development.
Hong Kong enjoys a leading position in the region, but this is not something we should take for granted. Fierce competition is all around us: competition for new and additional space and for government support, and competition between individual cities across the region. To maintain our supremacy in Hong Kong, we need to work on enhancing co-operation within the industry, presenting constructive and practical recommendations to the government and to policy makers, and getting more support from the government and the business community. To this end, our Executive Committee will continue to explore opportunities for co-operation with the Commerce & Economic Bureau, the Trade Development Council, the Tourism Commission, and the Hong Kong Tourism Board.
The CEDB has commissioned the HKTDC to study plans for the new convention centre above the future Exhibition Station. Although this additional space is welcome news, we believe that this does not go nearly far enough in terms of the unmet demand, therefore the Executive Committee and the Special Committee for Venue Development will continue to advocate expansion of both the HKCEC and AWE in order to create more dedicated exhibition space. The Association has written to the CEDB and the HKGCC representative to express our position. We will continue to seek commitment to a clear action plan and timeline from the Hong Kong government, with the goal of meeting the demand for more exhibition space and realising the potential economic benefits for Hong Kong.
I also encourage members to raise and discuss issues concerning the interests and the development of the industry through the channels offered by the Association. On behalf both of myself and of former chairman Javed Khan, I would like to finish by expressing the utmost gratitude to fellow Executive Committee members for the continued support they have provided during the year.