HK event organisers thrown a lifeline after policy change

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Event organisers in Hong Kong who rely on international exhibitors and buyers have been thrown a lifeline after the government changed its pandemic subsidy scheme.

Until now the Convention and Exhibition Industry Subsidy Scheme only applied to events that were able to take place, excluding those that had an international client base.

But changes to the scheme mean it will also provide immediate financial relief to organisers of exhibitions that have taken place in Hong Kong in any five years from 2015-2021.

Private organisers of exhibitions held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre or AsiaWorld-Expo can apply for relief the venue operators on or before November 30, 2021.

The changes, which follow concerted industry pressure, should help organisers cope with the impact of the prolonged postponement or cancellation of exhibitions under the pandemic.

The amount of the immediate relief will be equivalent to 20 per cent of the average annual rental of the relevant exhibitions, subject to a cap of HK$1 million (US$128,500) per event.

Meanwhile the subsidy scheme has been extended for six months to December 31, 2022.

The Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Industry Association (“HKECIA”) welcomed the move.

Chairman Stuart Bailey said: “The convention and exhibition industry has been in deep water since February 2020 as no international event was able to be held in Hong Kong due to travel restrictions and preventive measures. Only small-scale consumer exhibitions resumed. The further extension of the scheme and the one-off immediate relief fund are timely relief measures for the industry, helping ease financial burdens on the convention and exhibition organisers who can therefore get ready for the industry revival. We continue to call on the government to provide a road map for the relaxation of quarantine measures for international business travellers so that the industry can stage large scale events again. Without a proper plan in place some trade exhibitions will leave Hong Kong and then no amount of assistance will be enough to save the industry.

The government launched the Convention and Exhibition Industry Subsidy Scheme with a total commitment of HK$1.07 billion (US$137.5 million) to render much-needed support to the convention and exhibition industry. HK$620 million (US$79.7 million) out of the HK$1,070 million (US$137.5 million) Scheme subsidises private organisers of exhibitions and international conventions held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and AsiaWorld-Expo 100% of the venue rental. The Scheme has been extended twice since it was launched on 3 October 2020.

James Lancaster
Written By
James Lancaster

AMI editor James Lancaster is a familiar face in the meetings industry and international association community. Since joining AMI in 2010, he has gained a reputation for asking difficult questions and getting lost in convention centres. Proofer, podcaster, and panellist - in his spare time, James likes to walk, read, listen to music, and drink beer.

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