The Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Industry Association (HKECIA), first incorporated in May 1990, is celebrating its 27th. The Association currently has over one hundred 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 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.
The exhibition survey for 2016 showed that the Hong Kong exhibition industry remains steady despite fierce competition from new facilities in the region. Key indicators, including number of exhibiting companies and number of visitors, remained similar to those of the previous year, with a fall-off in some sub-groups being offset by rises in exhibiting companies and visitors from China. Around 66,500 exhibiting companies and over 2.2 million visitors participated in the trade 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.
Over 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 Dalian, Chongqing and Guangzhou Tianhe. Representatives from the Association also participated in a number of major exhibition events in China, including several senior forums across the Pearl River Delta, Guangzhou, Guilin, Macao Shanghai & Beijing.
The HKECIA Members follow venue development in China with much interest. The China Sub-Committee has been closely monitoring the progress of the new Convention & Exhibition Centre in Shenzhen, as well as other new exhibition centres in the neighbouring cities of Zhuhai and Foshan.
The Communications Sub-Committee continued to handle the extensive work associated with producing the 7th edition of the Economic Impact Study 2016 as well as managing the Annual Exhibition Survey 2016, while at the same time maintaining a busy schedule of day to day activities. The Economic Impact Study 2016 report is underway, and the results will be announced soon. The Communications Sub-Committee has also provided the Association with regular valuable support in areas such as the handling of media releases, press interview line-ups at which the Association’s position on the need for additional exhibition space was expressed, and chairman’s speeches and presentations.
Education and Training Sub-Committee
The Global Exhibitions Day Conference was organised last June for the first time, under the theme of the “China Belt & Road Initiative”. As speakers, the HKECIA invited industry experts from around the region to come and share their thoughts on this important topic
In December, the Education and Training Sub-Committee organised the HKECIA Annual Seminar, which attracted 100 members and guests and included topics on the Competition Ordinance, Health & Safety in the Exhibition Industry and the O2O2O strategy. The seminar received very positive feedback from participants.
In March, Sub-Committee handled the HKECIA Recruitment Seminar in Polytechnic University. This seminar aimed at providing final-year School of Hotel & Tourism Management students with the opportunity of engaging in face-to-face conversations with potential employers. Three HKECIA members presented talks at the seminar, which was attended by around 40 students with a keen interest in learning more about career opportunities within the industry.
Ms. Wendy Lai, Executive Vice Chairman of the HKECIA, represented the HKECIA at a sharing session for a group of students from Higher Diploma in Event Management at the Hong Kong PolyU Community College, at which she gave an overview of the exhibition industry and shared her personal experiences with 50 students. The Sub-Committee will continue to look for more such opportunities to reach out to young talents and encourage them to pursue a career in the exhibition & convention industry.
Exhibition Operations Sub-Committee
The Operations Sub-Committee focuses on two key aspects of our business – upgrading work safety at Hong Kong events, and reducing the environmental impact of our events.
The challenges in this area include extremely large shows, big stands, limited move-in/out times, and many hundreds of workers, a high percentage of whom are sub-contracted.
We continue to promote safe working practices including safe “working at height” at Hong Kong events. We also encourage exhibitors to reduce stand heights for safety and environmental reasons, and to build special design raw space stands using lighter materials and components.
Improvements in this area would not be possible without the endorsement and support of both AsiaWorld-Expo, and the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Over the year we have engaged with a new contractor and supplier association (HKESA), with a view to improving the work practices and equipment used across the industry (particularly ladders). We have also engaged with a third-party health and safety consultant (Prowess Safety Ltd), representatives from which spoke at the HKECIA 2016 Christmas seminar.
Hong Kong’s landfills are almost full. Meanwhile, the Government has announced plans for a Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) charging scheme which is likely to take effect in late 2019.
These two points mean that everyone in our industry needs to think carefully about the waste generated by each event, from printed promotional material to custom-made exhibition stands which end up in a landfill. Only by taking responsibility for the waste we generate, and committing to “reduce, reuse and recycle”, can we improve the situation.
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 today, the Association had 67 full members, 25 associate members and 9 overseas members, making a total of 101 members.
New members in 2016-2017 included the Chinese Manufacturers’ Association of Hong Kong, Guangdong Tanzhou International Convention and Exhibition Co., Ltd., Shanghai New International Expo Center Co., Ltd (SNIEC), Alto Asia Ltd, Y.Y. Wong Safety Consultants Ltd, Ocean Park Corporation and the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. Members who are joining his year 2017-2018 include Comasia Ltd, Messe Duesseldorf China Ltd. N200 (GES) Asia Ltd., SPEX Asia Pte. Ltd. We welcome the support and contribution of these new members to the HKECIA family.
In 2016, the sub-committee helped organise the HKECIA Annual Seminar and the Christmas networking cocktail event.
The Membership Sub-Committee will continue to explore and create networking opportunities and enhance membership benefits.
Venue Development Sub-Committee
Members of the Venue Development Sub-Committee and myself met with representatives from the Commerce & Economic Development Bureau (CEDB) in February 2017. At the meeting, the CEDB shared updates regarding venue development in Hong Kong, including details of the proposed plan to redevelop the Wanchai Sports Ground, and of the New Convention Centre above the Exhibition Station in Wanchai. The Sub-Committee Members and I shared our position with the CEDB, particularly stressing our support for expanding both the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and AsiaWorld-Expo in order to address the unmet demand for venue space and to maintain Hong Kong’s competitiveness by comparison with neighbouring cities in China and other cities in Asia.
The Sub-Committee will follow up closely with the government and relevant departments and organisations on the development of convention & exhibition space in Hong Kong.
The Asian Federation of Exhibition and Convention Associations (AFECA) was established in 2005, with a mission to promote and enhance the MICE industry in Asia. At the AGM of AFECA held on 7 November 2016, Ms. Wendy Lai, Executive Vice Chairman of HKECIA, was elected Assistant Honorary Treasurer of the AFECA Board for 2016-2018.
The HKECIA, together with Mr. Andrew Kay and Mr. Stanley Chu, sponsored a team of students from the School of Hotel & Tourism Management of Hong Kong Polytechnic University to compete with another 14 teams of students from Asia in the AFECA Asia MICE Youth Challenge on 8 November 2016, in Xiamen. Although the Hong Kong team did not win the competition, they gained valuable experience and enhanced their understanding of the MICE industry.
The HKECIA will maintain close relations with AFECA and continue working to facilitate exchanges between Hong Kong and other exhibition associations in Asia.
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.
- The Global Exhibitions Day Conference and the 26th HKECIA Annual Dinner were held on 8 June (Global Exhibitions Day) with great success, attracting over 130 and 340 participants respectively.
- In October 2016, a delegation of 13 members from the HKECIA attended the 21st Macao International Trade and Investment Fair (MIF) in Macao.
- In November 2016, in my role of Chairman I delivered a speech at the networking lunch held on day one of the UFI Congress in Shanghai in which I promoted Hong Kong as Asia’s world city. There were 500 participants at this Congress.
- In December 2016, I delivered a speech at the Annual Dinner of the Hong Kong Exhibition Services Association (HKESA).
- In January 2017, the HKECIA Golf Day at Sai Kung, Kau Sai Chau was held successfully, with participants enjoying a fun day of sport and networking.
- In February 2017, members of the HKECIA and myself joined the UFI Open Seminar in Asia, held in Singapore.
Working together for the benefit of all
Hong Kong enjoys a leading position in the region as Asia's trade fair capital. However, this is not a position that is assured in perpetuity. The exhibition and convention industry in Hong Kong is facing some serious challenges, which include global economic uncertainty, fierce competition from other Asian cities, increasing cost of operation, a shortage of labour, a lack of purpose-built exhibition space and concerns over the environmental impact of our events.
The sustainability and the environmental impact of our industry is being questioned, and we have a moral and fiscal responsibility to meet our obligations to the planet. The safety of our events and of the hard-working individuals who make them happen is of paramount importance, and remains our very highest priority.
The physical connectivity and infrastructure in and around the city is also changing, and Hong Kong's wider role in the world needs to be re-emphasised. There are many ways in which we can collaborate to ensure the future prosperity of our city within the Pearl River Delta, but much work remains to be done. Together we, the key stakeholders in the industry, can find solutions, if we work together and continue to advise our legislators, encouraging the government to invest in projects and initiatives that serve and protect this vital industry.
I would like to use this opportunity to reemphasise my belief that only by working together will we succeed, and that only through cooperation can we achieve a better, brighter and more sustainable future.
Finally, I would like to thank all of our members for their contributions to Hong Kong's convention and exhibition industry. I wish you all a very prosperous year ahead.