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Interview Mr. Allen Ha, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of AsiaWorld-Expo Management Limited

Updated: 2007-04-11 14:43

1. How do you evaluate AsiaWorld-Expo's first year of operations?

AsiaWorld-Expo, officially opened in December 2005, secured and hosted over 40 major international trade shows, conferences, and entertainment events in its first year of operation. Over 90% of these events were staged in Hong Kong for the first time and are signed up as annual fixtures for the coming years, five of which fully occupied the 70,000 square metres of available rentable space.

Highlights for 2006 included the popular China Sourcing Fairs for gifts, electronics and fashion accessories during the peak periods of April and October. The October series of China Sourcing Fairs attracted over 81,000 buyers from 148 countries, an increase of 20% when compared to the same events held at AsiaWorld-Expo in April 2006. The successful hosting of the mega ITU TLELCOM WORLD 2006 attracted 62,000 participants from 141 countries, including 1,542 media members, and 695 exhibitors from 37 countries with the economic benefit to Hong Kong estimated at HK$900 million. This 2006 edition of ITU TELECOM WORLD also saw a record of some 150 exhibiting companies from China. Others included leading jewellery fairs; specific sector trade fairs covering various industries such as furniture, auto parts, printing and packaging, security, power generation, arts and antiques.

Apart from public shows and large-scale corporate conferences, concerts and entertainment galas were also staged in the purpose-built arena (AsiaWorld-Arena). Oasis, Coldplay, Jamie Cullum, The Black Eyed Peas and a number of leading local artists, just to name a few, all played live concerts to sell out audiences last year while Eric Clapton, John Legend, lL DIVO and Rain were the big attractions at AsiaWorld-Expo in January 2007.

2. In what aspects has AsiaWorld-Expo contributed to the industry and the Hong Kong economy as a whole?

The exhibition and convention industry has played a key role in maintaining Hong Kong's leading position as an international business centre. International trade fairs anchored in Hong Kong are significant in the dynamics of job creation and demand for high value-added services in various sectors of our economy.

The opening of AsiaWorld-Expo has provided Hong Kong with more world-class facilities to hold a wider diversity of events. For example, Reed Exhibitions, the world's leading organiser of trade and consumer exhibitions, has confirmed to stage its flagship international aerospace industry event, "Asian Aerospace International Expo and Congress" at AsiaWorld-Expo from 2007 onwards. Apart from attracting new shows to town, the venue has also opened up enormous opportunities for the growth of existing markets. More events with similar topic can be staged at peak seasons now and they can leverage on each other, and in turn create a more powerful critical mass and create higher appeal for buyers.

Let's take ITU TELECOM WORLD 2006 being held at AsiaWorld-Expo in 4 - 8 Dec 2006 as an example. Well known as the Olympics in the telecommunications industry, ITU TELECOM WORLD 2006 attracted around 62,000 participants from 141 countries, including around 1,000 VIPs of ministers / ministerial representatives at director-general level, with an expected economic impact of over HK$900 million. The Hong Kong Hotel Association estimated that the average hotel occupancy rate during this period is about 90% or more, and the revenue was already about $400 million. ITU TELECOM WORLD 2006 has consolidated AsiaWorld-Expo's position as Hong Kong's premier exhibition and events venue, and helps to reinforce Hong Kong's status as Asia's Trade Fair Capital.

3. With the successful staging of ITU TELECOM WORLD 2006, what is the significance to AsiaWorld-Expo and the industry? How was customer's feedback?

ITU TELECOM WORLD 2006, the famed "Olympics of the telecommunications industry", is the largest exhibition cum forum ever held in Hong Kong. For AsiaWorld-Expo's team, the seamless running of the event was the result of two years of planning and close partnership with the organiser and different parties. With the high quality hardware and world-class services in different aspects, AsiaWorld-Expo had met the most sophisticated demands of the organiser, exhibitors and visitors and was a key partner to the success of the event. It was a great honour for AsiaWorld-Expo and, it is, a fitting tribute to the hard work and passion being all put into making a great event. The successful staging of ITU TELECOM WORLD 2006 has proved that AsiaWorld-Expo has what it takes to host large scale international exhibitions for both the trade and the public.

Here below are some comments from our ITU TELECOM WORLD exhibitors and visitors.

"Our participation has been a great success, from the launching of a new company, to business relationship building and trade show logistics. AsiaWorld-Expo should be counted as one of the best venues for a show of such prestige and it's been a pleasure to be here."
Francis Wong, Alcatel-Lucent, APAC

"Thanks to AsiaWorld-Expo's high ceilings and column-free exhibition space, we were able to erect a three-storey booth. This is AsiaWorld-Expo's great advantage. The venue also delivers highly professional services. Compared to other venues, AsiaWorld-Expo is more professional and responsive."
Li Zhengjian, Event Marketing Director, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd

"I've been to many exhibition centres around the world and AsiaWorld-Expo is one of the best. It is integrated with the airport, offers easy and quick transfer into the city centre and has a good layout. Services are good and reasonably priced."
J. Kaufmann, an overseas visitor to ITU TELECOM WORLD 2006

Following the success in hosting ITU TELECOM WORLD 2006 in Hong Kong, Wen Jiabao, the Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China recently acknowledged Hong Kong as the centre of international exhibitions and conferences of the Country and expressed the Central Government's continuous support to Hong Kong. Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Li Zhaoxing said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will work closely with the HKSAR Government to promote the hosting of more international conferences and exhibitions in Hong Kong so as to utilise Hong Kong as an international city and to boost the status of the Country and the HKSAR on the world stage.

4. What are the factors which have been driving growth of AsiaWorld-Expo and what are the strengths of AsiaWorld-Expo?

With CEPA (Closer Economic Partnership Agreement) and the opening up of the China market following China's accession to WTO, all sources from the market point to a burgeoning demand for international trade exhibitions, and Hong Kong will continue to play its key role as an international city and the most international city in China. People are using Hong Kong as a gateway to China and the world. The key advantages of Hong Kong include visa free entry for 170 countries, world-class services and business environment, and the easy and international connectivity through the award winning Hong Kong International Airport.

AsiaWorld-Expo is fully leveraging on this unique advantage Hong Kong offers. With 70,000 square metres of rentable space (including 10 ground-level, column-free, high specification halls), AsiaWorld-Expo is Hong Kong's largest exhibition and events venue. It is fully integrated with Asia's busiest travel hub - Hong Kong International Airport, and offers unrivalled connectivity to the Pearl River Delta region, an emerging economic force in Asia. This helps to affirm Hong Kong as the ideal gateway for access to the mainland market, as well as a springboard for mainland enterprises to venture into the global marketplace.

Besides, the continuous development of the SkyCity (airport city project), including SkyPlaza (a 35,000 sq m of retail, catering and entertainment centre) with footpath to AsiaWorld-Expo, SkyCity Nine Eagles Golf Course, SkyPier, and a new 5-star hotel, The SkyCity Marriott Hotel) will further enhance the airport city's attractiveness.

5. How do you expect the industry and AsiaWorld-Expo to perform in 2007? Will there be any large-scale events to be held at AsiaWorld-Expo in 2007?

Building on the strong first year, AsiaWorld-Expo has a healthy calendar of events ahead which includes a good mix of recurring events and new events.

One much-anticipated new world-class event in Hong Kong will be the "Asian Aerospace International Expo and Congress". It is the world's 3rd largest Aerospace show and is relocating to Hong Kong for the first time. It is a signature international trade show and features top industry players like Boeing and Airbus Industries, and is projected to again bring significant economic benefits to various industries in the city. Besides, a series of China Sourcing Fairs organised by Global Sources are recurring events for subsequent years. The fairs to be held in April and October 2007 will be bigger and better.

Apart from being the perfect venue for large-scale exhibitions and conventions, the arena in AsiaWorld-Expo (AsiaWorld-Arena) is purpose-built for a roof-raising atmosphere, with state-of-the-art facilities to host every kind of entertainment and sporting spectacular. Rain, Eric Clapton, John Legend, Zuhai, IL DIVO, MUSE, just to name a few, all played live concerts at the venue.