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Mice Asia Net : January 2009
news Ocean Park’s cable car These will position multilingual Hong Kong as strategically located and business friendly, providing access to the might of Chinese suppliers and manufacturers alongside visa-free entry for 170 countries and high-octane entertainment options. The tailored service that forms the second string to the MEHK offering is designed to deliver on these brand promises, with in-market MEHK representatives tasked with arranging logistical support for events, from the selection of unique venues and immigration support, to VIP receptions and cultural exposés. In some cases this tailored service may take on an educational role. HKTB Chairman James Tien pointed explicitly to an exciting new MICE market: “We’re seeing a trend, especially among Chinese multinationals, of companies that need to offer incentives to keep their staff and engage regional teams as well as participate in exhibitions, but which have no MICE experience,” he said. “They have simply never marketed in that way. We hope that Hong Kong can cash in on this new trend.” The final element of the new MEHK service is to provide advisory services and marketing support to Hong Kong businesses, building and continually replenishing the supply side of the city’s MICE offer and facilitating an integrated approach between government and industry. In this regard, the launch of MEHK reflects well on Anthony Lau. After a year as HKTB Executive Director his commercial approach and ability to galvanise both industry and government are highlighted in this new venture. At the launch event the chief representatives of the major venues, hotels and airlines presented a united front, pointing to the significance of MICE business and the strides being taken to rise to 8 miceAsia.net the challenges of the current global economic climate. With funding provided over five years, MEHK appears to have been given a good chance to foster the MICE sector in sustainable ways. However, it is fair to say that the MEHK launch was less about the new facilities and attractions of Hong Kong and more about placing Hong Kong at the centre of shifting economic realities. But while Hong Kong provides a convenient gateway to China and other emerging economies, what new infrastructure will cater to the demands of increasing numbers of business travellers? According to the HKTB, quite a range. In 2009 the second expansion of the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre will be completed. Adding 19,400 square metres to the HKCEC, the expansion will bring total exhibition space to nearly 83,000 square metres. Indeed the Hong Kong Government, says Anthony Lau, is already talking about a “third face” of the venue in the future to cater for demand. Due to complete construction in 2010, the top floors (102 to 118) of the International Commerce Centre tower in West Kowloon will house the Ritz Carlton Hotel, providing 300 luxury hotel rooms and facilities, 101st floor dining and prime office space below. The 100th floor Observation Deck will offer panoramic, 360 degree views of Hong Kong. Nearby, the new 393-room W Hotel recently opened for business, conveniently located above Kowloon’s Airport Express Link Station. There is a renewed awareness of the value of heritage to the tourism sector in Hong Kong. As part of this program, the Marine Police Headquarters Heritage Hotel Development in Tsim Sha Tsui will be completed in 2009, transforming the 120-year-old building into a 30-room boutique hotel. In terms of attractions, the New Ocean Park redevelopment plan will open in several phases between 2008–2012, gradually transforming the park over a six-year period and doubling the number of attractions to 70. Overlooking the South China Sea on Hong Kong Island, Ocean Park will soon offer resort accommodation for the first time, with The Summit Hotel & Spa, Ocean Hotel and Fishermen’s Wharf Hotel all in the works. And the Hong Kong Government is said to have earmarked a further 10 new sites for developing and building hotels and additional new hotel rooms to support the growing MICE market. But most of all, there is a sense that Hong Kong now sees itself differently, including as part of its attraction multi-day itineraries taking in Macau, Shenzhen and Guangdong Province. As the axis of world affairs tilts towards the growing economies of Asia, MEHK offers event planners focused, well-facilitated and glamorous ways to do business with China and the world in Hong Kong.