Study reveals Hong Kong’s exhibition industry contributes HK$52.9 million in 2016

Stuart Bailey

The Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Industry Association (‘HKECIA’) released findings from the latest bienial Economic Impact Study gauging the contribution of Hong Kong’s exhibition industry to the city’s economy today. The Study, covering the calendar year 2016, reveals that the exhibition industry contributed HK$52.9 billion (US$6.8 billion) to the local economy in 2016 in expenditure effects, equivalent to 2.1% of Hong Kong’s total GDP for the period. The Study also reaffirms the significant economic benefits of the exhibition industry to the city, with international exhibitors spent on average 75% more than general overnight tourists in 2016. At the same time, the exhibition industry generated the equivalent of 77,000 full-time jobs for people in Hong Kong.

Total expenditure generated by the exhibition industry remained at the same level as that of 2014 despite continuing global economic uncertainty. Of the HK$52.9 billion (US$6.8 billion) in total expenditure effects generated by the industry, just over half – HK$26.5 billion (US$3.4 billion) – represented direct expenditure made by visitors, exhibitors and organisers.

International exhibitors and exhibition visitors are high-value groups by comparison with general overnight tourists, according to the Study. It shows that international exhibitors and exhibition visitors continued to significantly outspend general overnight tourists, on average spending around 75% and 66% more respectively in 2016. In fact, the difference in spending between these two groups and general overnight tourists increased by comparison with the difference reported in the previous three editions of the Study. That spending benefits Hong Kong’s important retail, hotel and F&B sectors the most.

From 2014 to 2016 the average spending of overnight tourists coming to Hong Kong declined quite significantly, by 17%. By contrast, the Study shows that the average spending of international exhibitors and exhibition visitors, while also declining, fell by less than that for overnight tourists, at 10% and 14% respectively. This reinforces the fact that business travelers attracted to Hong Kong by the exhibition industry are high-value individuals who are important contributors to the economy.

Hong Kong’s government also benefits directly and to a high level from the exhibition industry, according to the Study. In 2016, the fiscal benefits contributed by the exhibition industry (e.g. the various taxes imposed by the government on exhibition activities and participants) amounted to HK$1.9 billion (US$244.2 million).

Mr Stuart Bailey, Chairman of the HKECIA which commissioned the study, said, “This latest data comes as a timely reminder of the importance of the exhibition industry to Hong Kong, at a time when decisions need to be made about the support it is given going ahead. We did expect to see a drop in some areas as the global economy has not yet fully rebounded. The findings clearly show the massive benefits delivered at the levels of cash spending, employment opportunities, and spin-off effects for related businesses and supporting industries, and for government income. We must do our best to secure international exhibitors and exhibition visitors who are proven high spenders, and to ensure that Hong Kong continues to have the capabilities to attract and host large and significant exhibitions in the years to come.”

This was the seventh in the Economic Impact Study series, which have been carried out biennially since 2004. It was conducted by KPMG Advisory (Hong Kong) Limited, a respected independent research consultancy.

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