ART Asia is back in town this weekend for the third year, bringing with it the biggest collection of art in the territory. In 1992, the fair attracted 22,000 visitors and, last year, that number had more than doubled. Organisers are hoping about 50,000 people - dealers, collectors, and people just curious about the current trends in art - will visit the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre between today and Monday. The spread of art on show is certainly sumptuous. There are Renoirs and Picassos, there are pieces by leading contemporary Chinese artists such as C. C. Wang and Wang Yidong, and futuristic sculptures by Taiwanese Yuyu Yang and French artist Bernar Venet. There are exhibitors from more than 30 countries and, while the first two Art Asia fairs attracted mainly Western exhibitors, a majority of Asian galleries are represented at this one. France, Britain and the US will each have about a dozen exhibitors and the Taiwanese, Japanese, Vietnamese and Singaporean galleries will be there in stronger force than before. Although there are no galleries from mainland China, plenty of mainland artists are represented by Hong Kong and other dealers. 'Our aim is to fill two floors of the exhibition hall next year,' Emily Doncaster, Art Asia representative, said. No one pretends it is cheap to exhibit at Art Asia: gallery owners are each paying at least US$11,000 to display their pieces, even with the smallest booth, yet some of them have decided to return to the fair each year. So why do they come? According to Ms Doncaster, it is because Art Asia has, within three years, established such a strong presence in the Asian art market. Far bigger than the newly established Tresors' fair, which took place last month in Singapore, or than the Taiwanese or Tokyo fairs, they claim this is the number one art fair on the continent. She said one leading auction expert had estimated that of the $1.5 billion annual turnover in art and antiques in Hong Kong, about on-third was generated by Art Asia - both during the fair and later. 'A lot of the items are sold during the fair, but some gallery owners have told us that many of their big negotiations go on after Art Asia, after they have made or renewed contracts with local collectors,' Ms Doncaster said. She said that although some of the 47,000 visitors last year were school children, this was a good thing for the future of fairs like Art Asia. 'As well as creating a forum to sell art, the point also is to showcase international art, to make it more familiar to a wide range of people. That way you are building foundations for the future.' Richard Green Galleries in London has returned to Art Asia for the second year with 65 paintings. 'It is a lot of work but we have been going to art fairs for years and it seems to pay off,' director John Green, said. Chieko Hasegawa, of Nichido Gallery, said she had decided to return to Art Asia because her experience at the fair last year had shown there was a clear demand for contemporary Japanese art. 'We did well with our artists last year, so we are bringing them back with some other contemporary artists. Art Asia has also become a good time of year to renew contacts,' she said. Antique dealers were less sure about returns from investments. This is the first time antiques have been brought into the Art Asia forum and about 30 antique dealers - from Hong Kong and elsewhere - have reacted by booking space to display Ming Dynasty cabinets, diamond tiaras and antique clocks to the Art Asia visitors.