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Mice Net : February 2009
hong kong world citychina’s A Business visitors to Hong Kong have the most cosmopolitan of introductions to Chinese enterprise and enthusiasm, as Alexis roitman discovered. city long known for its ingenuity and resourcefulness, Hong Kong is rising to the challenge of the post-handover years, fighting off stiff regional competition to showcase its unique status as China’s ‘World City’. With a new business events focus, brilliant new infrastructure coming to market, and an awareness of its central place in shifting economic realities, Hong Kong has much on offer for Australian planners and corporate groups. Hong Kong already has an impressive track record as a destination for significant trade conferences and exhibitions, particularly in the medical, financial, manufacturing and telecommunications sectors. But with the recent launch of Meetings & Exhibitions Hong Kong, the new business events arm of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, the city is stepping up the pace for business travellers. Hand in hand with this new marketing focus comes the second expansion of the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre and a range of new MICE infrastructure to cater for a long list of upcoming events (see inset). Perhaps most of all, Hong Kong is very aware of its unique status as a centre for international trade. Part of China, yet decidedly commercial and culturally diverse, the city is set to soar as the Chinese economy surges. MEHK launch Last November, Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) Chairman James Tien announced the creation of Meetings & Exhibitions Hong 180 mice.net Kong (MEHK), an initiative designed to capitalise on new business events opportunities and ensure Hong Kong remains competitive in the global MICE sector. In the wake of the Beijing Olympics and the global financial crisis, the launch renews the city’s focus on MICE business and profiles Hong Kong’s strategic location at the gateway to Mainland China. It follows an additional funding allocation of HK$150 million to the sector over the next five years by the Hong Kong Government in February 2008. As a new division of the HKTB, MEHK will field three teams in the meetings and incentives, conventions and exhibitions segments respectively, acting as a central point to stimulate demand for business events in Hong Kong and to ensure a coordinated offering from Hong Kong’s diverse business tourism sector. Through MEHK, says HKTB executive director Anthony Lau, Hong Kong is billing itself as “a neutral platform for multicultural business exchange, where the world can do business with China, India and the big emerging markets with ease.” Staying competitive As well as capitalising on interest in China, the launch of MEHK is in many ways a response to stiff competition in the region. The most recent statistics report from the International Congress & Convention Association in 2007 places Hong Kong third among its Asian rivals, after Singapore and Beijing, and in 12th place internationally (up from 16th place in 2006).