Hong Kong - While trade fairs remain buoyant retail has suffered in Hong Kong
Richard Smith | 27 December 2019


Many people doing business in Hong Kong have been following the events there characterised by massive rallies and demonstrations since early June as the pro-democracy movement has flexed its muscles demanding that the One Country - Two Systems agreement signed in 1997 is adhered to by The Peoples Republic of China.

The effects on the local economy have been predictably negative with Hong Kong entering in a recession (albeit technical) for the first time since 2010. It has been the retail sector that has suffered the most during this period with hotels, shops, restaurants and the whole hospitality sector being devastated by the dramatic drop in visitors to the city, principally from Mainland China.

Hotel occupancy was down at least 40% and this would obviously have impacted retail sales on all levels. Many Chinese consumers came to Hong Kong to purchase luxury goods but brands that opened stores in the city have also suffered as sales collapsed during the ongoing demonstrations that usually take place at the weekend.

The undermining of confidence in visiting the territory for fear of violent demonstrations and equally violent actions by the police has resulted in the current economic situation.

And Trade Fairs………….?

Nevertheless, while shoppers stayed away and hotel occupancy fell, trade fairs continued to be held in the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) in Wanchai and in the Asia World Expo (AWE) out near the international airport. Event organisers did report a fall in visitors from mainland China but overall the number of visitors was of quality and remained buoyant despite the uncertainty in some of the city streets due to rallies and demonstrations.

The resilience of visitor numbers to trade fairs with some shows attracting up to 67,000 visitors and more than 3,000 exhibitors serves to prove the importance of Hong Kong as Asia’s major business hub and the gateway to the Chinese market.

APLF’s parent company, Informa Markets, has organized and held all the trade fairs programmed in Hong Kong since June this year – and each trade fair has gone off without a hitch. This is the direct experience of the exhibition teams that work closely with APLF and we have applied several heightened security measures and added transportation such as hotel shuttle buses and accommodations to assist our exhibitors and visitors. All of this accumulated knowledge will be passed along to APLF this spring to ensure the smooth running of this global event.

Don’t be led astray by sensationalist reports such as “7000 retailers to close in the next six months” since none of this has happened and the situation can revert very quickly as we have seen since the local election of 24 November when the pro-democracy candidates won 17 out of 18 districts and secured 60% of votes in a record turnout. The street protests have subsided and as a result the numbers of visitors and tourists are returning to this dynamic city where there is much to see and do.

In other positive news but for the global economy, the US and China have finally signed a Phase 1 trade deal that has calmed the waters of international trade and boosted confidence. At the same time, the results of the UK general election on 12 December will have resulted in clarifying the BREXIT conundrum and dispelled most of the uncertainty on the future of the UK in Europe – at least for the time being.

The trade fairs will be held as programmed and if you have any doubts then write to [email protected] and the organisers will address your concerns.

In the meantime, book your hotels to take advantage of the many offers available for your visit to APLF 2020 that will be held from 31 March – 2 April at the HKCEC.