By Sallie Chan
The Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Industry Association (HKECIA) welcomes the decision of the HKSAR Government to reduce hotel quarantine for inbound travelers from seven to three days, followed by four days under medical surveillance at home. Reducing the number of days for hotel quarantine will help ease the burden on Hong Kong residents returning to the city and incoming international travelers.
However, inbound visitors are not allowed to attend any exhibitions held in event premises, e.g., trade fairs, exhibitions, conferences, etc., during the four days of medical surveillance. The new arrangement and the reduction of number of days for hotel quarantine thus will make no difference for the exhibition industry.
Mr. Stuart Bailey, HKECIA Chairman, commented, “While the HKECIA appreciates Government’s direction of relaxing restrictions, our members and the exhibition and convention industry urge the Government to implement quarantine-free travel as soon as possible. During this interim period, we hope the Government will relax restrictions for business travelers and allow overseas exhibition organizers, exhibitors, and buyers with the Amber Code to run and attend exhibitions at event premises with their face masks on and appropriate social distancing and preventive measures.”
With decades of effort by the HKECIA members, Hong Kong has attained its hard-earned reputation as the Trade Fair Capital of Asia. Some 140 exhibitions were held in a ‘normal’ year at the AsiaWorld-Expo and the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, drawing millions of trade buyers and exhibitors from all over the world. These high-spending business travelers generated tremendous tourism receipts for hotels, restaurants and shops, and hence created tens of thousands of jobs. The exhibition industry has been an important pillar to Hong Kong’s economy and will be a core engine for the economy rebound.
Hong Kong exhibition industry is beginning to see renowned international trade exhibitions relocating from Hong Kong to destinations with less restrictive policies. Mega and international exhibitions have a long lead-time and therefore exhibition organizers urgently need a clear road map to start exhibitor and buyer recruitments. Otherwise, Hong Kong exhibition industry is unable to bounce back, and Hong Kong will lose advantages to other Asian cities. he exhibition industry and business sector need to be able to freely reconnect with the world to enable the economy to recover.
Ms. Sallie Chan is Association Manager for the Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Industry Association.