Big and small events, organisers get funding support

By Gerardine Donough-Tan

Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) is supporting the MICE industry’s recovery with strategic and tactical initiatives for big and small events. During the pandemic, HKTB has been engaging trade partners and overseas agents virtually through webinars and a new online MICE business-matching platform. Support services are offered through its Meetings and Exhibitions Hong Kong unit.

HKTB’s multi-pronged MICE recovery plan addresses both image and business concerns. The government has also provided funding support to the industry, such as the Convention and Exhibition Industry Subsidy Scheme launched on October 3 to re-ignite Hong Kong’s MICE industry.

HKTB’s MICE recovery plan

To boost image recovery, HKTB will be publicising the latest hygiene measures to regain confidence, publicise testimonials from organisers and launch an all-new MICE branding campaign to strengthen Hong Kong’s status as “the World’s Meeting Place”.

On the health front, a two-phase, standardised hygiene protocol is being implemented in partnership with the Hong Kong Quality Assurance Agency. Hong Kong International Airport is among the first in Asia Pacific to be health-accredited by Airports Council International.

In the business arena, the gradual roll-out of recovery programs includes MeetON@HongKong – Hong Kong’s MICE Ambassador program – and stepping up overseas promotions and exhibitions. HKTB will provide funding for small-sized MIC groups, as well as a new funding scheme for hotels. These are on top of the government’s anti-epidemic fund and other funding such as the Convention & Exhibition Industry Subsidy and Employment Support Schemes.

Convention & Exhibition Industry Subsidy Scheme

The US$131-million Convention & Exhibition Industry Subsidy Scheme was set up under the Anti-epidemic Fund. As part of the scheme, a 100-per cent venue rental subsidy will be provided for organisers of exhibitions and international conventions held at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) and AsiaWorld-Expo. The subsidy, which has no cap, will run until October 2, 2021.

Lohas Expo 2020 cum Vegetarian Food Asia 2020, held from October 23 to 25 at HKCEC, was one of the first to enjoy this benefit, thus reducing the cost burden for the organisers.

Help for ‘small players’ and events

One criticism has been that only events held at the two convention centres or are in the Hong Kong Trade Development Council stable can tap the generous grants. HKTB clarified that it is enhancing funding support for small-sized MIC groups for local DMCs by lowering the minimum stay requirement from two nights to one night only.

This will benefit a wider variety of MIC groups with different lengths of stay. The scheme will also help ground operators to generate more leads and win events. In addition, a new funding scheme will be introduced to encourage licensed hotels to capture small-sized corporate meetings and conventions.

In a tactical promotion, MeetON@HongKong will be partnering more than 80 hotels to offer free meeting and dining packages. There will be also be free flights or special services offered by Cathay Pacific and offers from visitor attractions. It is a showcase of all these enticing offers on a single platform for MICE agents and international event organisers.