HKECIA 2017-2018 Chairman’s Report

June 6 2018

The Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Industry Association (HKECIA), first incorporated in May 1990, is celebrating its 28th Anniversary. The Association currently has over one hundred members, making it a truly representative voice for the exhibition and convention industry. 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 the industry has made to our wider society, as well as to support members in areas such as professional development, business networking and information exchange.

One of the important tasks of the Association is that of conducting the annual exhibition survey, a valuable tool that is widely used by members, the government, the media, the business sector and the wider community to understand trends and developments in the exhibition industry. By benchmarking the survey findings with similar surveys conducted by other Asian cities, we are able to obtain a valuable ‘big picture’ of where Hong Kong stands in the region.

In 2017, a total of 135 exhibitions (over 2,000 sqm) were held in Hong Kong. The exhibition survey for 2017 shows that the Hong Kong exhibition industry remains steady in terms of the number of trade and trade & consumer exhibitions, despite fierce competition from new facilities in the region. Key indicators, including the number of exhibiting companies and the number of visitors, show a particularly encouraging sign with double-digit growth, both from international markets and Mainland China. Over 72,000 exhibiting companies and more than 2.4 million visitors participated in the trade exhibitions and trade & consumer exhibitions in Hong Kong last year. The final report will be available in the next few weeks. I would like to thank the Communications Sub-Committee for making this important survey possible, along with all those of our members who contributed data.

Sub-Committee Reports

China Sub-Committee

Over the past 12 months, the HKECIA continued to maintain close relationships with exhibition organisations in different Mainland cities. Delegations from Mainland organisations were welcomed from Ministry of Commerce of PRC (MOFCOM), Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Huizhou and Jiangmen. Representatives from the China Sub-Committee also participated in a number of major exhibition events in Mainland China, including forums in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan, Macao, Guiyang and Shanghai.

Also, the China Sub-Committee follows closely venue development in China with much interest, especially the progress of the new Convention & Exhibition Centre in Shenzhen.

Communications Sub-Committee

The Communications Sub-Committee continued to manage the Annual Exhibition Survey 2017, while at the same time maintaining a busy schedule of day to day activities. The Communications Sub-Committee has also provided the Association with regular valuable support in areas such as the handling of media releases, chairman’s speeches and presentations. The Sub-Committee also handled press interview line-ups at which the Association’s position on the provision of additional exhibition space mentioned in the Policy Address was expressed.

Education and Training Sub-Committee

In June 2017, the Education and Training Sub-Committee organised the HKECIA Conference held alongside with the 27th Annual Dinner at Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre, under the theme of “Success, Sustainability and the Future”. Organisers of successful exhibitions shared their past experience and how their events are likely to evolve in the future. Other covered hot topics included a case study on Hong Kong Rugby Union in greening their events; updates of the new venue in Shenzhen and a look back 20 years at the completion of HKCEC’s first extension. Over 120 members and guests have participated at the conference.

In December 2017, the Sub-Committee organised the HKECIA Annual Seminar covering key issues such as the development plan of West Kowloon Cultural District, 2018 economic outlook as well as the latest trends on event technology. The Seminar was well received and was attended by over 130 members and guests.

In summer 2017, upon request of the School of Professional Education and Executive Development of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the Sub-Committee has assisted to review and give feedback on their new proposed programme.

Exhibition Operations Sub-Committee

Exhibition Operations Sub-Committee

The Operations Sub-Committee has two main objectives – upgrading work safety at Hong Kong events and reducing the environmental impact of events.

Work Safety

Key challenges are very large shows, large and high stands, limited move-in/out times, and many hundreds of workers, a high percentage of whom are sub-contracted by individual contracting companies.

The Sub-committee continued to promote safe working practices including safe “working at height” which is the number one cause of serious accidents on site. In the past year there has been much meaningful dialogue and improved links with the Hong Kong Exhibition Services Association (HKESA); HKESA represents a high proportion of the stand contractors, sub-contractors and suppliers regularly working on Hong Kong events, so this engagement is important if the Association is to improve safe working standards across the local industry.

The Sub-committee strongly encourages all responsible decision-makers; organisers, exhibitors and contractors to reduce stand building heights for both safety and environmental reasons and to utilise lighter materials and components (reusing as much as possible) such as fabric and frames, which can be built much more safely.

Environmental Impact

Hong Kong’s landfills are almost full. This is a fact.

The Government has announced plans for a municipal solid waste charging scheme which is still being debated.

Everyone in the event industry needs to think carefully about the waste generated by each event, from printed promotional material to custom-made wooden exhibition stands, which end up in a landfill. The industry needs to acknowledge that despite the financial benefits to Hong Kong, exhibitions are a very wasteful business and change is needed.

Meanwhile the Canton Fair has recently introduced a “green booth” policy, whereby wooden structures are limited to 30% of the total stand area. Rather than have Guangzhou setting environmental standards and guidelines, the Hong Kong exhibition and events industry should be demonstrating their leadership position in the region.

Membership Sub-Committee

The Membership Sub-Committee continued to work on creating networking opportunities for members and supporting Association events such as the annual dinner, seminars and cocktails.

As of today, the Association has 64 full members, 30 associate members and 9 overseas members, making a total of 103 members.

New members in 2017-2018 included Comasia Ltd, Messe Duesseldorf China Ltd, GES, Creative Ideas Global (Exhibits) Ltd, FMC Exhibition Company Limited, EventXtra Limited, IVE Hotel, Service and Tourism Studies discipline. Members who are joining this year (2018-2019) include Global Produce Events GmbH, Eurovet Asia Limited, Top-Trans Expo Logistics (HK) Ltd, Bailey Communications HK Limited and Worldwide Cruise Terminals (Hong Kong) Limited. We welcome these new members to the HKECIA family.

In June 2017, the Sub-Committee organised the HKECIA Conference and the 27th Annual Dinner. The dinner was attended by over 320 members and guests including senior government officials, local consulates and close working partners. Mr Stanley Chu from Adsale Exhibition Services was awarded the HKECIA Lifetime Achievement Award for his dedication and contribution to the Hong Kong exhibition industry throughout many years and all participants had an enjoyable night networking with the peers.

In December 2017, the Sub-Committee organised the HKECIA Annual Seminar cum Christmas Cocktail in Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel for the first time with over 130 members and guests in attendance. At this event, the HKECIA had to the privileges to host a delegation of 30 industry professionals from the Indonesia Exhibition Companies Association (IECA). A MoU between HKECIA and IECA had been signed to mark the start of much closer relations between the exhibition industries in our respective territories.

The Association would like to thank all sponsors for their support in the past year.

The Membership Sub-Committee will continue to explore and create networking opportunities and enhance membership benefits.

Venue Development Sub-Committee

The development of Hong Kong’s venues and the need to address the rising unmet demand has been at the top of our agenda since the government commissioned a study in 2014 which found that the average unmet demand for conventions and exhibitions per day at peak months in Hong Kong would rise to 132,000 sqm by 2028.

In September 2017, shortly after the new government was formed, the Chairman and Honorary Life-President were invited to meet Mr Edward Yau, the Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development. During the discussion, the Association’s representatives were able to put forward the Association’s agenda for tackling this important issue of venue development and press the case for actions to be taken.

In October 2017, following the announcement of the 2017 Chief Executive’s Policy Address, HKECIA issued a press release to welcome the government’s proposal to demolish and redevelop the three government buildings in Wan Chai to build a new convention and exhibition venue that would be connected to and integrated with the existing HKCEC. The HKECIA also re-stated its position in supporting the development of other existing exhibition and convention venues including the readily-available exhibition and convention site adjacent to the AsiaWorld-Expo.

In July of last year, the Chairman and two of our Executive Committee (ExCo) representatives also met with the HKTDC and CEDB for an overview of the proposed new convention centre atop the Exhibition MTR Station in Wan Chai. Representatives from CEDB and HKTDC also came and addressed the full ExCo at a meeting in April of this year to update the members on their progress and received operational feedback on the new facility. The Architectural Services Department is continuing to work on the plans and more details are expected later this year.

In August, the Chairman had a meeting with Mr Duncan Pescod, CEO of West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) about the development plan of WKCD and invited him to speak at the HKECIA Annual Seminar in Dec 2017, which he accepted.

In April 2018 over 30 HKECIA Members joined a briefing session WKCD projects which focussed particularly on art, commerce and exhibitions (ACE Development). ACE will be located at the western end of the District, comprising an exhibition centre (18,000sqm) with a hotel, offices and embedded retail/ dining/ entertainment facilities within the site.

AFECA Sub-Committee

The Asian Federation of Exhibition and Convention Associations (AFECA) is a leading association for the Asian exhibition and meeting market. The federation has now 130 MICE association members and corporate members in 18 cities or countries in Asia.

HKECIA became a board member of AFECA in 2016.

In 2017, two Hong Kong student teams from the School of Hotel of Tourism Management of Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) and Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (IVE) were supported by the HKECIA to participate in the AFECA Asia MICE Youth Challenge held in Kaohsiung (Taiwan) to compete with other 12 teams from Asia. This event is a platform for future Asian MICE talents to outwit other participants by presenting their unique and creative MICE event ideas. The Hong Kong teams brought home with 3 awards, including Overall “Second Runner Up” “Most Knowledgeable Award” and “Special Recognition”.

A highlight of AFECA’s annual activities is the AFECA Awards. The AFECA Awards is an annual regional event to celebrate and acknowledge excellence in the exhibition and convention industry. In 2017, two HKECIA members have won distinctive recognition and awards. Milton Exhibits Group won first place in “Outstanding Service Awards”. Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre won first place in “Outstanding Venue Awards”.

The HKECIA will continue to take part in these regionals events to promote Hong Kong as a trade fair capital of Asia, and to help our members build strong network with other Asian Counterparts.

Trade Promotion, Communication & Networking Activities

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 ones here.

– In June 2017, HKECIA and HKESA organised the first Friendly Football Match on 7 June to celebrate the Global Exhibitions Day and HKECIA team won the match.

– In June 2017, the association welcomed a delegation led by the Ministry of Commerce of PRC (MOFCOM). During the meeting, representatives from the HKECIA and MOFCOM had meaningful exchanges about the C&E industry in Hong Kong and in China.

– In September 2017, HKECIA Operations Sub-Com and HKESA had a meeting to discuss about health & safety issues of working on site, and ways to promote the efficiency of operations during move-in and move-out.

– In October 2017, a delegation of 22 members from HKECIA attended the 22nd Macao International Trade and Investment Fair (MIF) in Macao.

– In November 2017, the Chairman delivered a speech at a business luncheon held during UFI Congress in Johannesburg to promote Hong Kong as the Trade Fair Capital of Asia. There were over 400 participants at this Congress.

– In December 2017, the Chairman and several HKECIA ExCo members received a delegation from the HongKong and Macao Affairs Office of Guangzhou Municipal Government and the Sun Yat-sen University and exchanged views on the convention and exhibition industry in Hong Kong and in Guangdong

– In January 2018, the HKECIA Golf Day at Sai Kung, Kau Sai Chau was held successfully, with participants enjoying a fun day of sports and networking.

– In January 2018, HKECIA Members participated at the 14th edition of China Expo Forum for International Cooperation (CEFCO) in Qingdao.

– In March 2018, Chairman and HKECIA members joined the UFI APAC Conference held in Malaysia.

– In April 2018, around 20 HKECIA members had joined the Hangzhou-Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Industry Cooperation Forum organised in Hong Kong by the Hangzhou Municipal Government.

– In May 2018, Vice Chairman of HKECIA participated in the Open Seminar organised by the Indian Exhibition Industry Association (IEIA) in Hyderabad, India to exchange and to network with other key industry players.

Working together for the benefit of all

Hong Kong continues to enjoy a leading position in the region as Asia’s Trade Fair capital. The data from the latest annual exhibition survey supports the view that we are currently operating in a favourable economic environment. Most business leaders are in agreement with this view that 2018 will, on balance, turn out to be a pretty good year.

However let this not be a time where we as an industry rest on our laurels, I am of the opinion that now is the time for us to come together in preparation for the challenges which we know we will face in the following months and years.

The Hong Kong convention and exhibition industry is on the precipice of change. Those of us who know well what is coming must plan our strategy with this new future in mind. The Greater Bay Area is a huge opportunity and we must work hard with our government and mainland partners to ensure that Hong Kong’s role as a key MICE hub is well understood and recognised. Failure to make plans and build partnerships now, in order that we are in a position to benefit in the future, could prove all too costly in the future. The environmental responsibility of our industry is another important issue that needs to be solved. The sustainability of our industry can only strengthen if we are prepared to change and clean up our act to the satisfaction of all our stakeholders. The lack of available event space continues to hold us back, but we will continue to work with the government and the private industry to look for solutions both in the short and long term.

In the many years that I have involved with the HKECIA, I have always found that we have far more in common with our colleagues from other companies than we have differences. We share many of the same challenges and it is only through collaboration that truly meaningful solutions can be found that benefit our industry as a whole.

At its very best, the Association acts in the same way as a family. its role is to help, protect and nurture, in order that we can all benefit and prosper together for the good of our employees and shareholders and for the good of Hong Kong. I would like to thank all of the members for the part that they play in contributing to our various committees. For those who are in a position to contribute more to help solve these shared issues, I encourage them to reach out to give us ideas and feedback.

Thank you for your support and I wish you all a healthy and prosperous year ahead.

Stuart Bailey

Chairman (2018)