Hong Kong’s Strengths and Weaknesses as a Conference Destination Essay

Hong Kong’s strengths and weaknesses as a conference destination

Hong Kong, advanced in its geographic location and well-developed society and business
environment, is regarded as a desirable destination for meetings, conferences and
exhibitions. According to the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Industry Association,
over 110 international exhibitions and conventions took place in Hong Kong in 2006,
attracting 62,000 delegates and 5,200,000 buyers worldwide. International congresses and
exhibitions, like the 6th WTO Ministerial Conference in 2005, 3G World Congress and
Exhibition 2005 and The International Telecommunication Union Telecom World 2006, had
enhanced and symbolized Hong Kong as a major international conference and exhibition
center in the region. However, though Hong Kong is experienced in holding conferences and
exhibitions, besides existing strong competitors like Singapore and Seoul, Macau is also
an emerging competitor in Asia-Pacific market, and favored by international organizers.
Therefore, Hong Kong needs a more in-depth understanding of its strengths and weaknesses,
thus develops to be the leader in region. A successful conference hinges on several key
elements like infrastructures, human factors, political and economic environment, and
geographic. Experienced in the industry for over 30 years, Hong Kong has its strengths and
weaknesses regarding these elements. In order to find out the way to success, these
elements will be discussed. Hence, suggestions could be made for Hong Kong’s strategic
sustainable development in the industry.

Successful factors

As one of the most favored conference destination in Asia Pacific, Hong Kong depends on
its unique geographic, complete infrastructure, experience and government support, which
support Hong Kong to be an international conference and exhibition destination.

Unique Geographic Environment
As the Secretary of Commerce and Economic Development, Mr. Frederic MA Si-hang, said, Hong
Kong has geographical advantages in the conference industry (Sing Tao Daily, 2007). Hong
Kong locates in the central of the Asia-Pacific, where is on the midway from East to West.
Most of the Asian and Oceania countries – like China, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia
and India – are just within 7 hours away by air. It is convenient for both logistics and
travelers. Besides, speaking of weather, bad weather would lead to cancellation or delay
of a conference. It is important that destination’s weather to be stable. Locating in the
subtropics of the South Hemisphere, Hong Kong is usually warm, where the average
temperature is between 22.5 to 24.5 degree Celsius, and the four seasons are distinct
(HKO, 2007). Moreover, natural disasters, such as hurricane, earthquake or tsunami, are
almost isolated from Hong Kong. Therefore, Hong Kong is a safe, timely, convenient and
comfortable place for visitors all over the world.

World Class Meetings Facilities
Hong Kong has two main conference and exhibition centers, which are the Hong Kong

Convention and Exhibition Center (HKCEC), and Asia World-Expo (AWE), providing totally
over 130,000 square meters rentable function space. In addition, AWE is planning to expand
the venue, providing over 60,000 square meters more space. These centers can handle large
scale conference and like WTO Ministerial Conference. In addition, HKCEC has been awarded
as Best Convention and Exhibition Center in Asia Pacific in the 2007 and 2005 industry
survey. HKCEC and AWE are capable to hold large scale functions, providing high tech
equipments and facilities when the organizers need that. Live video conference, instant
translation, and or any ad hoc tasks are possible in these top class venues. On the other
hand, there are plenty of choices, such as hotels, for middle and small scale conference.
Except the use as accommodations, several hotels have been designed or even redesigned to
be capable for holding conferences. For example, Mandarin Oriental provides business
conference services with professional services. Complete equipments like visual and audio
systems, computers, broadband and telecommunications are provided for conference users.
These hotels might be efficient and convenient for organizers and attendees (Mandarin
Oriental 2007). All in all, Hong Kong is equipped for meetings in all sizes.

Convenient Transportations
For external transportation, air plays an essential role. The Hong Kong international
airport is one of the busiest airports on earth. This 24-hours airport provides services
with over 85 airlines, over 5,000 flights per week to over 150 destinations (HKIA, 2007).
Organizers and participants from Europe, Asia or Americas can travel to Hong Kong with a

single flight at least. Materials can also be sent to Hong Kong in short time as the
airport never rest. Besides by air, railway and water can play supplementary roles for
regional visitors. The Kowloon-Canto Railway (KCR) connects DongGuan, FoShan, GuangZhou
East, ZhaoQing ShangHai and Beijing with HungHom. This provides an economic way to Hong
Kong. And, ferry services might be another efficient way for regional visitors. So, Hong
Kong is a very accessible for attendees to come.

For internal transportation, Hong Kong has developed a very complete traffic network
accessing all urban areas. The two main conference and exhibition centers, Hong Kong
Convention and Exhibition Center (HKCEC) and Asia World-Expo (AWE) could be easily
accessed by railways, buses and taxis. These transportations provide efficient ways for
connecting between airport, piers, terminals, accommodations and conference and exhibition
centers. Speaking of railways, there are two main networks В– Mass Transit Railway (MTR),
Kowloon-Canto Railway (KCR) and West Railway- connecting most of the urban areas with over
150 stations. Apart from railway, high penetration of road network enhances the
convenience of transportation of passengers and material logistics by motor cars. Overall,
transportation system in Hong Kong could be said very complete. It is convenient for all
visitors, delegates, organizers and material logistics.

Wide Selection of hotels

Hong Kong provides visitors with wide selection of accommodations. Until August 2007,
there are 56,656 rooms provided by 641 hotels and guesthouses (HKTB, 2007). International
hotels like Mandarin Oriental, The Peninsula, Marco Polo and Intercontinental Groups also
have their hotels in Hong Kong. Besides, alternative accommodations like youth hostel and
holiday villages also provide economical accommodations for students or organizations.
Except the use as accommodations, several hotels have been designed or even redesigned to
be capable for holding conferences. For example, Mandarin Oriental provides business
conference services with professional services. Complete equipments like visual and audio
systems, computers, broadband and telecommunications are provided for conference users.
These hotels might be efficient and convenient for organizers and attendees. Organizers
can choose the one according to their needs or preferences.

Complete Communication Networks
Whether a conference is successful might hinge on the coordination work, which needs a lot
of communication services. Hong Kong is abundant in telecommunications services and
internet services. Until October 2007, 253 external telecommunications services operators
and 5 mobile network operators can provide local and external telecommunications services,
including international direct dialing and facsimile service for conferences participants
(OFTA 2007). In this information era, internet services become a must for information
transmission. Hong Kong has 174 internet services providers and 5,171 Wi-Fi spots which
facilitate the communications between conference organizers and participants. Also, video

conference or telephone conference could also be considered when it is needed. Updating
progress of the preparation is essential. With plentiful communication tools in Hong Kong,
it would be convenient for organization and other service suppliers to coordinate. All of
these might lead to the success of conferences and exhibitions by Hong Kong’s reliable and
complete telecommunications services.

Experienced in the industry
Hong Kong had started the meetings industry for over 20 years. Professional conference and
exhibition services suppliers in Hong Kong like Professional Conference Organizers (PCO)
and Conference Handling Agents (CHA) are experienced in organizing international events.
Also, these professionals are capable in speaking English and Putonghua which make
communication easier. With over 20 years experience in this industry, no doubt those PCOs
and CHAs can handle different conferences.

Government Support
The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) has teamed some trade partners to offer some
irresistible privileges for organizers who commit international meetings in Hong Kong
during 2006 to 2015. The package includes airlines, hotels, venues, destination management
companies and promotion by HKTB. Moreover, the Trade Development Council (TDC) and the
Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Industry Association (HKECIA) also support conference

and exhibition organizers in many aspects. Consultation, management, or even services
supplier lists are ready for organizers so that they might save a lot of effort in
information research in a strange place.

All-round desirable destination
Hong Kong is always an international city in people’s eyes. According to the Tourism
Board, visitors from 170 countries could enjoy visa free access for 7 to 180 days.
Attendees can access Hong Kong easily (Immigration Department, 2007). Moreover, Hong Kong
is physically and economically connected with China, which means that business
opportunities in China, the biggest emerging economy, are easy to find. Besides, Hong Kong
has a low crime rate, which is lower than many big cities such as Tokyo and Toronto
(Security Bureau). The business and political environment in Hong Kong is also stable.
Moreover, Hong Kong is famous as shoppers’ paradise. Attendees of conferences can sped
their spare time on shopping in the city. Besides, Hong Kong is a place where East meets
West. Also, picturesque countryside, relaxing beaches, modern shopping malls and amazing
night views can satisfy different visitors with different lifestyles. Weaknesses Hindering
Hong Kong

Although Hong Kong is advanced in many aspects as an international conference destination,
some problems in the industry really hinder Hong Kong to step forward to be leader in the
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