Hong Kong Government Injects $130M in Subsidies Into Meetings Market

The initiative is part of an effort to combat the negative economic effects of COVID-19.

As Hong Kong has struggled in the face of the outbreak and spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the destination's government has stepped in to support its meetings industry. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government has announced that it will inject a subsidy of slightly more than HK$1 billion (US$130 million) into exhibition and convention business, in an effort to reinvigorate the sector in the face of high-profile event cancellations.

Under the program, 100 percent of venue costs will be subsidized for organizers of exhibitions and conventions held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, provided the event has more than 400 participants, with at least 50 percent of those participants arriving from outside of Hong Kong. Additionally, any exhibitors and conference attendees participating in major exhibitions and conventions organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council will have half of their participation fees covered — up to US$1,280 — for a 12-month period.

Monica Lee-Müller, managing director of Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre Management Limited (HML), the HKCEC's private management company, applauded the decision as "a timely relief measure for the industry that has been greatly affected by the public activities in the second half of 2019 and the recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)." Hong Kong tourism and travel were negatively affected by last year's protest movement as well.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, events including the Hong Kong International Jewelery Show, Hong Kong International Diamond, Gem & Pearl Show and Art Basel Hong Kong have been canceled. Lee-Müller emphasized that the subsidy was a chance to help the destination recover from these challenges, and a recognition of the importance of exhibitions and conventions for the Hong Kong economy.

"[It] sends a positive message to international event organizers that Hong Kong welcomes their return," said Lee-Müller. "We are confident that the measures will encourage organizers with postponed events to confirm their new schedules, and new organizers to confirm their plans."