The Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Industry Association (HKECIA), first incorporated in May 1990, is celebrating its 29th 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 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 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 2018, a total of 138 exhibitions (over 2,000 sqm) were held in Hong Kong of these 68 were pure trade shows, 20 were trade plus consumer and 50 were consumer exhibitions. The exhibition survey for 2018 shows that the Hong Kong exhibition industry remains steady, in terms of the number of trade exhibitions, with a slight decrease in the number of participants. The total number of exhibiting companies fell by 3.9%. While visitors to Hong Kong’s exhibitions fell by 1.7% with all regions down in number apart from Mainland China from which visitor number increased slightly.
The drop off was mainly due to US-China trade war which started in the beginning of 2018; higher tariffs imposed by both countries have seen reducing demand for their products, taking into account that these nations are both the largest manufacturers and consumer markets in the world; the drop-off is in fact less than might have been anticipated. In total over 69,000 exhibiting companies and more than 2.3 million visitors participated in the 88 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.
The official inauguration of huge infrastructure projects such as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and High Speed Rail (Hong Kong Section) has encouraged closer ties between Hong Kong and Mainland China. The recently released Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area has highlighted the importance of Hong Kong’s role in contributing to the entire development of the Greater Bay Area. In view of the increasingly important business relationship between Hong Kong and Mainland China on MICE industry, over the past 12 months, the Association has facilitated more cooperation and interaction through welcoming delegations from Shenzhen, Dongguan, Foshan Tanzhou, Hainan, Hangzhou, Tianjin and attending important networking events held in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Xiamen, Jiangxi, Hainan, Macao, etc.
The China Sub-Committee also follows closely the venue development in China with much interest, especially Shenzhen World Convention & Exhibition Centre opening later this year. The HKECIA also looks to form closer ties with other leading associations in the region for the benefit of the members, to encourage collaboration and form mutually beneficial partnerships. Later this month we will sign an agreement with the Shanghai Convention & Exhibition Industry Association (SCEIA) which will formalise the partnership between the associations of our two great exhibition cities.
The Communications Sub-Committee continued to produce the Annual Exhibition Survey 2018, 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 and press interview line-ups. The Sub-Committee will soon start working on the biennial Economic Impact Study (EIS) for the exhibition activities in 2018.
Education and Training Sub-Committee
The Education and Training Sub-Committee organised one conference in June held alongside the Annual Dinner and one seminar in December with the Christmas Cocktail.
The Annual Conference in June 2018 covered hot topics of the industry such as sustainability, Merger & Acquisition in the industry, as well as challenges and opportunities of the Greater Bay Area Initiative. We were pleased to have a full house of 160 members and guests who participated in the conference.
Held in the Hong Kong Design Institute, the Annual Seminar in December 2018 focused on different aspects of sustainable issues for the industry, from planning to implementation, to stand designs and food and beverage. The Seminar was well received and was attended by over 140 members and guests.
The Sub-Committee has been looking for ways to help nurture local young talents studying MICE related programmes in tertiary institutions. The HKECIA Education Fund has been set up in 2018. Funds collected from members have been used to support student teams from School of Hotel & Tourism Management of Hong Kong Polytechnic University to participate in the AFECA Asia MICE Youth Challenge 2018 which took place in South Korea, and to provide prizes for the winning teams of the HKECIA x HKDI Sustainable Exhibition Booth Design Competition. Our heartfelt gratitude goes to all sponsors. The Sub-Committee will continue to look for more opportunities to nurture young talent.
The Sub-Committee has also conducted a survey on Training needs and skill levels in the MICE industry. By doing so we were able to identify the training needs and common skill gaps in the industry. This will prove useful for the Sub-Committee to plan suitable seminars or educational programmes for members in future.
Exhibition Operations Sub-Committee
The Operations Sub-Committee continues to focus on “safety and sustainability” around our local industry, namely:
- to promote safer working practices and conditions for everyone involved in H events
- to reduce the environmental impact of our Hong Kong events
Links with the Hong Kong Exhibition Services Association (HKESA) continue to strengthen; these are contractors, suppliers, and sub-contractors who work on Hong Kong events on a regular basis. By helping improve their work safety standards we can improve safety around our events.
Operations Sub-Committee members were actively involved in the HKECIA x HKDI Sustainable Exhibition Booth Design Competition. They shared with students the challenges and needs of the industry in the competition’s briefing session, also joined the judging panel and gave feedback to students on their work.
We continue to promote the benefit of reduced stand heights. “Working at height” is a major cause of serious work accidents in our industry. It stands to reason that by reducing stand heights, risk is reduced. However, it is up to individual organisers to take control and responsibility of this aspect at their events, the HKECIA cannot mandate this. Some members have made progress in this area, others are in denial, the exhibition business has matured from the situation many years ago when a “higher is better” mind-set prevailed.
Reducing stand heights also reduces the environmental impact of our events – less material also means less trucks on the roads to and from the venues, and less waste (into the Hong Kong landfills) at the close of a show. This was a point made to the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) when the Sub-Committee and HKECIA Chairman met the Deputy Director and her team in September 2018. We were able to brief the EPD on some of the challenges faced by our industry, including a lack of suitable warehousing/storage/recycling facilities, which contributes to increased disposal into the HK landfills.
Having said that, members of the Sub-Committee visited recent editions of the Canton Fair, expressly to see how the organisers have implemented a “maximum 30% use of wood’ rule for raw space stand designs. The result is highly impressive, with high quality stands being designed and built from frame and fabric – a much more sustainable option from both work safety and environmental impact viewpoints.
If Hong Kong is to remain “The Trade Fair Capital of Asia”, we need to emulate and surpass what we have seen in Guangzhou. The HKECIA can only recommend this as a large positive step to all those members who take sustainability seriously.
The Membership Sub-Committee continued to work on creating networking opportunities for members, and supporting Association events such as the annual dinner, annual conference, seminars and cocktails.
As of today, the Association had 64 full members, 38 associate members and 13 overseas members, making a total of 115 members.
New members in 2018-2019 included Expos Asia, DISENO Idea Limited, ISS-Vision Events Ltd, the College of Professional and Continuing Education of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Joy Aether Limited, Oliver Kinross, ShowTex Hong Kong Ltd, Cvent and Zhuhai Hengqin Huajin International Convention & Exhibition Service Co Ltd. Members who are joining this year (2019-2020) include Art & Antique International Fair Ltd., To Be Concepts Ltd, Sunwising Insurance Brokers (Hong Kong) Limited, Comba Telecom Limited, Steed Exhibition Limited, Chunky Onion Productions Ltd, and Hannover Fairs International GmbH. We welcome all of them to the HKECIA family.
In June 2018, the Sub-Committee organised the HKECIA Conference and the 28th Annual Dinner. The dinner was attended by over 320 members and guests including senior government officials, local consulates and close working partners.
In December 2018, the Sub-Committee organised the HKECIA Annual Seminar cum Christmas Cocktail atthe Hong Kong Design Institute for the first time with over 140 members and guests in attendance.
The Sub-Committee would like to thank all sponsors for their support in the past year.
The Membership Sub-Committee will continue to work on member recruitment, to explore and to create networking opportunities, and to enhance membership benefits.
Venue Development Sub-Committee
The development of Hong Kong’s Exhibition and Convention facilities continues to be an important agenda item for the Association in 2018/2019. Over the past year members of the Executive Committee have taken time to meet with representatives from the Commerce & Economic Development Bureau (CEDB), the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and other important stakeholders.
We have sought to build an understanding of the difficult situation in which our industry currently finds itself. We have looked to find solutions both in the short term as well as longer-term to help safeguard the future of Hong Kong’s convention and exhibition industry. We will continue with this work as there is still much to be done in pursuit of making more space available for trade exhibitions.
As was mentioned by the Chief Executive in her 2018 policy address the three government buildings in Wan Chai are expected to be fully vacated, at the earliest by 2026, following which it is proposed that there will be room for more exhibit space in the facility which replaces them and is connected with the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.
2018 also saw the Airport Authority complete the acquisition of a private interest in the AsiaWorld-Expo (AWE). This now means that the AWE is jointly owned by Hong Kong SAR Government and Airport Authority Hong Kong. The Association is looking forward to learning more about the plans to develop the AWE as part of the SkyCity project under the new ownership structure.
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 countries or cities in Asia.
The HKECIA became a board member of the AFECA in 2016. During the 2018 AFECA AGM, our Executive Vice Chair Ms. Wendy Lai has been re-elected as one of the Board Members as well as Secretary General of the AFECA. Representing HKECIA, Ms Lai will also be heading the Young Professional Sub-Committee.
In 2018, the HKECIA, with its newly established Education Fund, supported a student team from the School of Hotel of Tourism Management of Hong Kong Polytechnic University, to participate in the AFECA Asia MICE Youth Challenge held in South Korea and competed with 13 other teams from Asia. This event is a platform for the future Asian MICE talents to test their skills against other participants by presenting their unique and creative MICE event ideas. The Hong Kong team has brought home two awards – Overall “Second Runner Up” and the “Best Presenter Award”.
A highlight of AFECA’s annual activities is the AFECA Awards. The AFECA Awards is an annual regional competition to celebrate and acknowledge excellence in the exhibition and convention industry. In 2018, two HKECIA members have won distinctive recognition and awards.
AsiaWorld-Expo won 1st place in Outstanding Venue Award while Bailey Communications won 3rd place in Outstanding Trade Fair Award.
The HKECIA will continue to take part in these regional events to promote Hong Kong as the Trade Fair Capital of Asia, and to help our members build strong networks with 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 significant ones here.
- In July 2018, HKECIA Honorary Secretary Ms. Brenda Yau joined the Inauguration and the first meeting of the China Provincial Exhibition Association in Shanghai. This Association was initiated by Shanghai (Mr. Chen Xianjin), Guangdong (Ms. Liu Songping), Jiangsu and Sichuan Exhibition Industry Association.
- In August 2018, the HKECIA and the HKESA organised the Second Friendly Football Match on 22nd August to celebrate the Global Exhibitions Day.
- In August 2018, the Association welcomed the delegation led by the Construction & Management Committee of Foshan New City. At the meeting, the representatives from the HKECIA and Foshan New City had meaningful exchanges on the current exhibition industry in both cities.
- In September 2018, the HKECIA Members met with the Task Force on Land Supply to share their views on the land supply-related issues.
- In September 2018, the Exhibition Operations Sub-Committee met with the officials from the Environmental Protection Department to address the environmental issues related to the Hong Kong exhibition industry and to exchange ideas on ways to reduce waste.
- In October 2018, a delegation of 18 HKECIA Members attended the 22nd Macao International Trade and Investment Fair (MIF) in Macao to explore business opportunities.
- In November 2018, over 70 HKECIA Members joined the Shenzhen World Roadshow in Hong Kong to learn about the latest updates and operations of the venue located in the Shenzhen Airport New Town.
- In November 2018, our Executive Committee Member Dr Andrew Kay attended the Xiamen MICE Forum on behalf of the Association.
- In November 2018, several senior representatives from the HKECIA, joined the 85th UFI Global Congress in St. Petersburg, Russia to promote Hong Kong as the Asia’s Trade Fair Capital of Asia.
- In November 2018, Chairman participated in the 1st Greater Bay (Foshan) International Convention & Exhibition Industry Summit and shared his views in the panel discussion in the event.
- In January 2019, the HKECIA Golf Day at Sai Kung, Kau Sai Chau was held successfully, with participants enjoying a fun day of sport and networking.
- In January 2019, HKECIA Members participated in the 15th edition of China Expo Forum for International Cooperation (CEFCO) in Hainan and Chairman gave a presentation and joined a panel discussion.
- In January 2019, Chairman joined the first Shenzhen Global MICE Innovation Summit and shared his view on the Greater Bay Area in a panel discussion.
- In February 2019, Honorary Secretary Ms. Brenda Yau delivered a speech during the New Era Convention & Exhibition Development Summit in Guangzhou. A delegation from the HKECIA also attended the Summit and the Annual Dinner of the Guangzhou Convention & Exhibition Industry Association.
- In March 2019, Vice Chairman Mr. Adolph Chan joined the Hong Kong Trade Associations Forum in Shenzhen and exchanged views with representatives from other trade associations in Hong Kong.
- In March 2019, Executive Vice Chair Ms. Wendy Lai and HKECIA Members joined the UFI Asia Pacific Conference in Tokyo, Japan.
- In March 2019, HKECIA China Sub-Committee welcomed delegates from Tianjin led by Mr. Zhang Ai Guo, the Director of Tianjin Municipal Bureau of Commerce and exchanged views about the exhibition and convention Industry in Hong Kong and in Tianjin.
- In March 2019, HKECIA Executive Committee Members joined the Briefing Session organised by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) to give views on the 2019-2020 Overseas Mission Trips organised by the HKTB
Hong Kong, being the world's freest economy, is highly dependent on international trade and finance. Hong Kong’s exhibition industry is an important pillar of the economy supporting international trade, encouraging spending and deal-making and contributing $52.9 Billion to the economy. It stands to reason that a major international trade war is going to damage trade and our industry must face these headwinds and ride out the storm together. Economic data reflects that the challenges faced by Hong Kong have been increasing. Apart from the US-China trade conflict, we are also experiencing slower momentum of economic growth in Europe, uncertainties caused by Brexit and escalating geopolitical tensions of various regions.
We are fortunate that there are also new opportunities for us to grasp, the recently released Outline Development Plan for the Greater Bay Area reaffirms Hong Kong’s leading position in the exhibition industry and gives a clear direction of consolidating and enhancing Hong Kong’s status as an international high-end convention, exhibition and sourcing centre (Chapter 6: Section 3 - To develop a system of modern service industries). Building close ties with our counterparts from other cities in the Greater Bay Area while exporting Hong Kong’s expertise in organising high quality exhibitions will bring benefit to all parties, the Executive Committee and I are working hard to bring the key stakeholders across the Greater Bay Area to create these opportunities for collaboration.
In the many years that I have been involved with 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.
The Association at its very best, 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, shareholders and for the good of Hong Kong. I would like to thank all of the members for the part that you play in contributing to our various Sub-committees and for those of you who feel that you are in a position to contribute more to help solve these shared issues I encourage you to reach out to give us your ideas and feedback.
Thank you for your support and I wish you all a healthy and prosperous year ahead.