The head of the Trade Development Council has urged Hong Kong to expand its exhibition facilities to avoid losing out to its regional competitors. "Our exhibition and convention business is doing extremely well," said council chairman Vincent Lo Hong-sui. But he warned there was an increasing risk of turning potential exhibitors away owing to a lack of convention venues. "If we continue to [turn away business], we are helping other cities," he told the Post . From 2010 to 2014, 84 applications for renting exhibition venues were turned down because of a shortage of space at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai. Some 129 applications for conference venues were also rejected due to a shortage of space. Lo noted that Shanghai, Guangzhou and Singapore had more exhibition facilities. He stressed that Hong Kong needed to catch up and urged the government to find more land sites for facilities, preferably in urban areas. "We find that a lot of people coming to Hong Kong to attend exhibitions and conventions prefer to come into town," he said. "To find land in the city is very, very hard. But we must try." He said the council was ready and willing to take part in any plans for developing new facilities. "We just need more space." Asked whether he was concerned about funding, Lo, founder and chairman of property development company Shui On Group, said many banks and potential investors were ready to pump money into such projects. "We don't need to rely on the government to pay," he said. In August, a Legislative Council research report had suggested Hong Kong attract more business visitors to diversify its tourism market and product offerings amid a fall in arrivals and weakening tourist spending. The report noted that Hong Kong's regional competitors such as Singapore, Beijing and Seoul had rolled out more proactive measures to promote themselves as premier MICE [meetings, incentive travels, conventions and exhibitions] destinations in the Asia-Pacific region. It said business travel could bring many benefits, including increased spending on accommodation and shopping. The report added: "The per capita spending of overnight business visitors has all along been higher than that of overnight non-business visitors. "Business travellers can help the host city by taking up some of the empty rooms available during off-peak seasons." It said Hong Kong had failed to do enough to promote business travel, while neighbouring cities such as Singapore and Seoul had put in place medium- to long-term plans to chart the MICE industry growth. The local exhibition industry was still expanding amid capacity constraints and economic uncertainties last year. In 2014 the number of exhibiting companies rose 6.5 per cent to 66,164 over the previous year, while the number of business visitors increased 5.8 per cent to nearly two million, said the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Industry Association. Hong Kong's inbound tourism as a whole also reported growth last year. The number of visitors surged 12 per cent year-on-year to 60.8 million in 2014. But arrivals dropped 0.1 per cent year on year in the first eight months of 2015, according to Tourism Board figures.