Hong Kong meetings proceed despite demonstrations

The Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Industry Association says the city remains "open for business"

Hundreds of thousands of people have spent the summer protesting in Hong Kong. (WikiMedia Commons)
Hundreds of thousands of people have spent the summer protesting in Hong Kong. (WikiMedia Commons)

HONG KONG - Since June, streets in Hong Kong have been overflowing with pro-democracy protestors, hundreds of thousands of who have spent the summer demonstrating against a proposed law that would allow Hong Kong to extradite accused criminals to countries with which it does not have a formal extradition treaty -- including mainland China, whose reputation for imprisoning political dissidents has drawn the ire of human-rights advocates around the globe.

Protests reached fever pitch in mid-August, when demonstrators took over Hong Kong International Airport, causing a rash of flight cancellations whose impact reverberated across the region.

Although the protests continue, so do meetings and conventions taking place across the city, promises the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Industry Association (HKECIA), which today published a statement assuring the global meetings industry that all business events in Hong Kong are "running smoothly and without interruption."

"Business is as usual in Hong Kong," HKECIA chairman Stuart Bailey said in a statement. "At this time we are seeing that major exhibitions and conferences in Hong Kong are running without incident or interruption. Exhibition and conference events were not targeted for disruption. Hong Kong is definitely still open for business and safe to travel."

According to HKECIA, both of Hong Kong's convention centres -- the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and AsiaWorld-Expo -- are open and accessible. The airport, meanwhile, is safeguarding against future disruptions with the help of local courts, which have granted it an interim injunction to prevent demonstrators from obstructing the airport's operation.

To date, no convention groups have reported interruptions to their meetings as a result of protests, HKECIA says, and only one major meeting -- the Seafood Expo Asia, which was scheduled to take place Sept. 3-5 -- has been cancelled.

"Of course visitors should take extra care and be mindful of areas in which protests might be taking place and take note of any special traffic arrangements such as temporary road closures and disruptions on public transport," Bailey continued. "But it's worth remembering that Hong Kong is consistently ranked one of the safest cities in the world."

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