Mainlanders who come to Hong Kong for trade fairs are much keener shoppers than those from the rest of the world, according to a study by Asia World Expo.
In each business trip they made to the Lantau venue last year, they spent an average HK$10,900 on shopping, research conducted by accountancy firm KPMG on behalf of the venue found.
The spending was well beyond that of Americans who shelled out an average HK$3,100, and more than double that of visitors from Europe, Africa and Middle East, who each spent an average HK$4,700.
Last year, the venue received 217,000 non-local exhibition visitors, with 34 per cent from the mainland, up from 20 per cent in 2006.
While retailers may rejoice at this ever-larger proportion of mainlanders, hotel operators may not be so happy. Mainland business travellers on average spent HK$3,000 per visit on accommodation last year - less than half that of Australians, Europeans or Americans, whose spending ranged from HK$7,900 to HK$8,300.
'Mainland visitors are heavily biased to retail spending,' KPMG's Thomas Stanley said.
Meanwhile, the five-year-old venue's market share continues to climb. From nothing in 2006, its share of the convention and exhibitions industry rose to about a third last year, Expo chief executive Allen Ha said. In 2010, it hosted 89 trade exhibition and conference events, an increase of 65 per cent from 2006. The events generated expenditure of HK$13.4 billion.
Performance last year was particularly good - expenditure arising from events rose a quarter over 2009 - riding on the success of an animated version of the painting, Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival, a star item from the Shanghai World Expo. About 900,000 people saw it at Asia World Expo.
The exhibition's popularity prompted organisers to consider hosting public non-trade events at the venue, but not all received an overwhelming response.
Some exhibitors at Better Living Expo, a public event hosted for the first time in July concurrently with the Book Fair at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai, complained of a small turnout.
But Ha, without giving numbers, said the turnout was satisfactory for a debut and would be bigger next year.
Nevertheless, trade fairs would remain the expo's focus as it eyes the Pearl River Delta market, Ha said.
Completion of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, would cut the hour-long journey from Zhuhai, Shenzhen or Macau to the expo to about 20 minutes, he estimated.
Construction was scheduled to start this year and finish by 2016, but it could be delayed after a court ruling overturned the project's environmental impact report. The government has appealed to the High Court.
A Wine Futures trade show will make its debut at Asia World Expo from November 6 to 8. It will include tastings by heavyweight wine critics Robert Parker, Pancho Campo and Jancis Robinson.