Hong Kong’s tourism board is eyeing business travellers as the next major boost for the sluggish industry amid the declining number of mainlanders visiting the city. To lure professionals with big incomes, the Hong Kong Tourism Board is stepping up efforts to bring world-class events to the city while seeking more sites to host them and intensifying campaigns overseas to promote Hong Kong as an events hub. The board is betting that a greater number of professionals passing through would help brush up the city’s image and lead to greater economic benefits. “You can imagine … those professionals who attend industry conferences in Hong Kong, such as bankers, doctors and investment consultants, have higher spending power compared to ordinary visitors,” said Anthony Lau Chun-hon, executive director of the board. READ MORE: Hong Kong should target business travellers to offset fall in tourism, Legco report urges This so-called MICE market includes meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions, and typically involves a large number of business travellers who usually spend two to three days in a destination. MICE visitors, who currently represent 3 per cent of all visitors to Hong Kong , spent HK$9,400 per person in 2014, 17.5 per cent more than that of the average visitor, according to the board. But the industry was hit last year by the lacklustre performance of the global economy, with the number of MICE visitors to Hong Kong dropping 6 per cent in the first nine months of the year, according to Lau. But he said the decline slowed in the fourth quarter. Despite the gloomy economic outlook for the coming year, Lau said the city’s convention centre, one of the major locations for large exhibitions and events in the city, was fully booked. Kenneth Wong Cheuk-hung, the board’s general manager of MICE and cruise, said the promoter would develop and explore new locations suitable for smaller events, such as the Hong Kong Science Park, in a bid to draw travellers. The board is also planning to invite representatives of major industry associations overseas as well as event planning companies to tour Hong Kong to see its potential in the MICE market. “Hong Kong is a perfect place for international business associations to hold large-scale events,” Wong said, citing the city’s position as a connecting point between mainland China and the world.