The Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Industry Association (HKECIA) presented, 6 September, the results of its latest member survey ‘Impact of Covid-19 to Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Industry 2021’ to the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau (CEDB), Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
The HKECIA has urged the CEDB to repurpose the fund of the Convention and Exhibition Industry Subsidy Scheme (Subsidy Scheme) and to provide a roadmap of relaxing compulsory quarantine requirements for qualified business travellers.
HK$620m (US$79.7m) out of the HK$1,020m (US$131.2m) Subsidy Scheme, under the HKSAR Antiepidemic Fund, subsidises 100% of the venue rental for private organisers of exhibitions and international conventions held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and AsiaWorldExpo till June 2022.
However, organisers of international trade fairs and conferences were unable to recruit overseas exhibitors and buyers due to the travel restrictions and compulsory quarantine requirements. Event cancellation meant, as of 30 June 2021, the Subsidy Scheme has provided a total subsidy of around HK$97.38m to 42 exhibitions.
The HKECIA member survey was conducted 2-13 August 2021 among 101 HKECIA members. Sixty members have responded and completed the survey, with 36% being event organisers and 64% non-organisers. Here are some of the key findings:
- From the organiser respondents, 136 exhibitions and conferences have been cancelled or postponed since February 2020 and these events expected to draw over 99,000 exhibiting companies and over 4.8m visitors;
- 93% of respondents claim that the impact of Covid-19 on their business is severe or extremely severe;
- All respondents project a loss of revenue in the year 2021, with 37% of event organisers and 29% of non-event organisers projecting a loss of over HK$50m in 2021.
Severe impact of compulsory quarantine requirements:
- 100% of organiser respondents claim that quarantine-free travel for overseas participants is important for them to run and materialise their events;
- 75% of organisers respondents which organise international events in Hong Kong say that they will move their international events from Hong Kong to other countries if the travel restrictions in Hong Kong are not removed by the end of 2021;
- 45% out of all respondents can only survive for 12 months or less, if the current travel restrictions remain till the end of 2021, or if no further financial assistance is received by the end of 2021.
Respondents claim government’s assistance is insufficient:
- 55% of event organiser respondents claim that they did not benefit from the Subsidy Scheme as they were not able to run international trade fairs or conferences;
- 66% of non-event organisers claim that the two rounds of the government’s AntiEpidemic Fund in 2020 did not provide sufficient assistance as there was no direct funding for contractors, logistics and service providers.
HKECIA chairman, Stuart Bailey (pictured), stated: “The convention and exhibition industry, which contributed over HK$58bn to Hong Kong’s economy in 2018, has been in deep water since February 2020. 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 trade fair organisers have yet to reach. We urge the government to repurpose the Subsidy Scheme and provide immediate and additional financial assistance for event-related service providers.”