This year, Hong Kong celebrates a major milestone — the 20th Anniversary of its return to China in 1997.
Heralding past, present and future, a year-long events program is being rolled out for all to enjoy under the theme
“Together. Progress. Opportunity”.
Aside from all the wonderful upcoming events related to the 20th Anniversary celebrations, Hong Kong will continue to forge on as the ultimate regional destination for hosting events, from exhibitions to concerts. As such it’s pulling in a swathe of visitors with purpose.
Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) are an important part of Hong Kong’s tourism industry. During 2015-16, overnight MICE arrivals reached 1.72 million and their per-capita spending exceeded HK$8,400 (US$1,075), 16% higher than that of other visitors. The sector continues to thrive with the Hong Kong Tourism Board’s all-round strategy to keep the momentum going.
Switching gears from a meeting, convention or exhibition is easy when malls, hotels or nightlife are only a short walk, taxi or train ride away. Hong Kong’s infrastructure makes getting around seamless for visitors, who have a multitude of attractions to choose from. Whether taking the peak tram to Victoria Peak (for the perfect selfie!), or relaxing on a ferry to an outlying island, Hong Kong has made a concerted effort to join up the dots with packages and incentives that encourage visitors to explore the city’s many attractions and local cultural offerings.
...and Hong Kong has some of the world’s biggest and best. In late 2005, the AsiaWorld-Expo, situated right next to Hong Kong International Airport, opened its doors. The venue includes 70,000 square metres of exhibition space in 10 halls, and an entertainment arena with a 14,000 people capacity. The arena has hosted world famous rock legends Metallica, Grammy Award winner Ed Sheeran and sell-out band Coldplay among a raft of other globally recognised talents. And getting there is easy, thanks to the integrated train network.
The 306,000-square-metre Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre overlooking Victoria Harbour has come a long way since it opened in 1988 — and has played host to many world-class events and exhibitions (including the Sino-British Handover ceremony in 1997, the IMF/World Bank Meetings in 1997 and the WTO Ministerial Meeting in 2005). This year, RISE, the biggest tech networking festival in Asia’s calendar will attract over 15,000 attendees.
Even larger, is Art Basel Hong Kong, a showcase for global and Asian Art as well as numerous other art fairs. This year Art Basel boasted nearly 80,000 attendees. The Hong Kong Trade Development Council runs a long list of exhibitions and conferences annually, food and wine, to fashion, jewellery and houseware as well as major business gatherings such as the Asian Financial Forum and the Belt and Road Summit.
An overarching advantage that has steadily grown in Hong Kong’s favour over the past two decades is the long-held and ever-closer ties with China. This closeness makes the city an attractive place for events that can take advantage of Hong Kong as a gateway to the Mainland.
Take the booming Fintech sector for example. In an analysis piece earlier this year, Accenture highlighted China and Hong Kong as the leaders in Fintech investments across the region.
“China and Hong Kong alone accounted for US$10.2 billion, or 91 per cent, of Asia’s US$11.2 billion in fintech investments in 2016”- Source: Accenture
So it is that Hong Kong is building on a strong initiative to be the hub of Fintech, by hosting its inaugural Fintech Week in 2016. The Hong Kong FinTech Week 2017, to be held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in October, will be bigger and more impactful. The latest, most innovative financial technology and topics will be showcased to an audience of senior-level influencers from across the globe.
Hong Kong has plenty of world-class sporting action — and it is not just the famous Rugby Sevens. Every year Hong Kong offers unique experiences at large-scale events, including golf, tennis, equestrian sport, cycling and the highly successful Hong Kong Marathon. Another case in point — the city’s first Formula E electric motor-sport race in 2016 staged on a harborfront circuit. At the opening of the event, Formula E’s CEO Alejandro Agag praised the circuit and the support the sport had received in the city. “The Hong Kong ePrix has the potential to be one of Formula E’s premier events. The circuit is located right in the heart of the city, winding its way around some of the most iconic landmarks,” he said. Agag also noted that corporate support as well as that of government had been instrumental in bringing the event to the main stage. The ePrix is set for another run later this year.
These are just a few examples of the ways in which Hong Kong is blooming as an events hub, providing opportunities and progress for all, socially and economically. In addition, the city’s reputation as a cultural melting pot and a gateway to China provides a backdrop that sings the spirit of togetherness.
The territory may be a relatively small city on a global map, but its modern infrastructure coupled with a free and open society make it able to absorb and welcome large numbers. Once described as a “Barren Rock”, Hong Kong has evolved into Asia’s world city with enough diversity and appeal for everyone on many different levels.