EXHIBITIONS

Hong Kong’s AsiaWorld-Expo presses government for second-phase development

Exhibition organiser says development of adjacent site near airport would complement planned Lantau developments and boost city’s commercial tourism

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 November, 2016, 9:08pm
UPDATED : Monday, 28 November, 2016, 10:22pm

AsiaWorld-Expo – the exhibition facility near the airport – is pressing the government to allow it to develop an adjacent site, saying it would complement planned developments on Lantau Island and greatly boost the city’s commercial tourism.

Allen Ha Wing-on, chief executive officer of AsiaWorld-Expo, made the call on Monday as he noted that conditions were ripe for the 53,000 square metre site to be kick-started for its second-phase development.

AsiaWorld-Expo is coping with tourism downturn but bosses say site has limited capacity and needs expansion

“The site has been earmarked and is ready for convention and exhibition development. We think now is the time for action. All we need is the government’s approval to start this project,” he said, adding that they had had some preliminary discussions with the government one year ago.

Ha said they hoped to develop the site as AsiaWorld-Expo’s existing 70,000 sq m of rentable space had reached saturation point with double-digit growth for the past seven years.

“This year the number of days with full capacity reached a record high of 66 – six days more than last year. The peak spring and autumn season has always been fully booked. Sometimes we are forced to reject big international events due to a lack of space. It’s a great pity,” he said.

Over the past financial year, AsiaWorld-Expo hosted over 300 big events, with 43 of them accommodating over 8,000 visitors and another 78 catering to 4,000 people.

Ha added it would take about three years to construct the new facility, which would produce tremendous economic benefits as it would complement infrastructure development on Lantau and spur the growth of commercial tourism.

Planned and ongoing projects in the vicinity include the airport’s third runway and the north commercial district development, the extension of Tung Chung new town, the bridge to Macau and Zhuhai and the expansion of Disneyland.

“All these big projects will be completed within the next few years. The development of our adjacent site as AsiaWorld-Expo’s second phase can certainly complement their development as we can bring in more business visitors to enjoy services and facilities there,” Ha said.

Declining to disclose the estimated cost of the project, he said it would be more than double that for the existing facility, which cost HK$2 billion and opened in 2005.

“If this project is to go ahead, we expect the government to bear construction costs. But as to its business model, we keep an open mind and welcome any discussion,” Ha said.

A spokesman for the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau said the government was already planning to build another exhibition centre in Wan Chai on top of the new Exhibition Station for the future MTR link from Shatin to Central.

“We will keep an eye on the Lantau development, and continue to consider the feasibility of building convention and exhibition facilities at another location. The nearby area of the site should be able to provide sufficient supporting facilities such as accommodation, eateries, entertainment and transport,” he said.