Hong Kong continues to lure companies from around the world to hold exhibitions and trade fairs, despite the economic downturn, according to the Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Organisers' and Suppliers' Association. Newly-elected chairman Michael Duck said floor space at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre was fully booked for this year. Mr Duck, also a director of Miller Freeman Asia, a subsidiary of the world's biggest exhibition organiser, said about eight new exhibitions had been planned for next year despite some of this year's events receiving fewer visitors. Tax Free Asia Pacific, which was held last month, saw a 15 per cent reduction in visitors compared with the fair in Singapore last year. The Asia Pacific Leather Fair suffered an 8 per cent decrease in visitor numbers, despite a 20 per cent increase in floor space, Mr Duck said. Some exhibitions, such as the Hong Kong Gift and Houseware Expo, had seen 43 per cent more visitors this year compared with last year. He said it took up to four years to plan an exhibition, and this year's bookings for floor space were made well before the financial turmoil hit the region last year. Mr Duck said exhibition organisers were not deserting Hong Kong but were instead making a long-term commitment - no exhibitions had been cancelled. But he admitted some exhibitors had sent fewer representatives, as a cost-cutting exercise. 'We will see the light at the end of the tunnel of the economic downturn and people will come back later,' Mr Duck said.