In her fourth Policy Address on 25 November, Hong Kong chief
executive Carrie Lam pledged support for the city’s beleaguered tourism,
convention and exhibition industries, and to move forward with plans to
expand the SAR’s MICE capacity by 40%.
Referring to tourism as one of Hong Kong’s “four pillar industries,”
Lam announced HK$600 million (US$77 million) in immediate support
targeted at travel agencies and their staff, guides and drivers impacted
Tourist arrivals have plunged over 99% since the emergence of
Covid-19 and the pandemic. Despite city-wide protests for much of 2019,
1.6 million overnight MICE visitors attended more than 100 trade events
last year, according to the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.
Currently, 50 venues offer more than 148,000sqm of space, led by the
central Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC),
AsiaWorld-Expo (AWE) near the airport, and Hong Kong International Trade
and Exhibition Centre (KITEC) in Kowloon Bay.
Lam also indicated she would begin positioning Hong Kong’s MICE
sector for 2021 and beyond, with a commitment to expanding mainland
China and international visitor source markets, broadening the Hong
Kong-for-Hong Kong market, and boosting the city’s convention capacity
with the new Convention and Exhibition Industry Subsidy Scheme.
Under the scheme, the government is committing HK$1 billion to the
MICE sector in the next year, and will officially plough ahead with
existing plans to redevelop the Wan Chai North government towers
(currently home to the immigration and revenue departments) and the Kong
Wan Fire Station — across from the HKCEC — into MICE, hotel and office
When plans were first floated nearly a decade ago, the sites were
valued at approximately HK$20 billion. “I think it makes sense for the
government to maximise the value of the nearby area by redeveloping the
Wan Chai North buildings," said Rosanna Tang, Colliers head of research
for Hong Kong and Southern China. “The plan also resonates with the
government’s vision of enhancing the harbourfront area and walkability
along the coastal line.”
Elsewhere, the Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) will begin carrying
out phase two of AsiaWorld-Expo's construction, as well as
visitor-focused infrastructure, including autonomous transport
connecting the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Boundary Crossing
Facilities island, the airport, the SkyCity commercial complex (and
Marriott Hotel) and Tung Chung town.
The two projects combined will increase MICE capacity by more than 40%.
“The Hong Kong Tourism Board is taking the opportunity to examine the
positioning of Hong Kong’s tourism to meet future challenges,” said
Lam, adding, “In the long run, we still have great confidence in the
Lam stated the plans to develop a new convention centre above the
forthcoming Exhibition Station, the terminus of the MTR’s new Sha
Tin-Central link, have been scrapped due to time and cost concerns.