Hong Kong's strengths and weaknesses as a conference destination

Hong Kong, advanced in its geographic location and well-developed society and business environment, is regarded as a desirable destination for meetings, conferences and exhibitions. According to the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Industry Association, over 110 international exhibitions and conventions took place in Hong Kong in 2006, attracting 62,000 delegates and 5,200,000 buyers worldwide. International congresses and exhibitions, like the 6th WTO Ministerial Conference in 2005, 3G World Congress and Exhibition 2005 and The International Telecommunication Union Telecom World 2006, had enhanced and symbolized Hong Kong as a major international conference and exhibition center in the region. However, though Hong Kong is experienced in holding conferences and exhibitions, besides existing strong competitors like Singapore and Seoul, Macau is also an emerging competitor in Asia-Pacific market, and favored by international organizers. Therefore, Hong Kong needs a more in-depth understanding of its strengths and weaknesses, thus develops to be the leader in region. A successful conference hinges on several key elements like infrastructures, human factors, political and economic environment, and geographic. Experienced in the industry for over 30 years, Hong Kong has its strengths and weaknesses regarding these elements. In order to find out the way to success, these elements will be discussed. Hence, suggestions could be made for Hong Kong's strategic sustainable development in the industry.

Successful factors
As one of the most favored conference destination in Asia Pacific, Hong Kong depends on its unique geographic, complete infrastructure, experience and government support, which support Hong Kong to be an international conference and exhibition destination.

Unique Geographic Environment
As the Secretary of Commerce and Economic Development, Mr. Frederic MA Si-hang, said, Hong Kong has geographical advantages in the conference industry (Sing Tao Daily, 2007). Hong Kong locates in the central of the Asia-Pacific, where is on the midway from East to West. Most of the Asian and Oceania countries - like China, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia and India - are just within 7 hours away by air. It is convenient for both logistics and travelers. Besides, speaking of weather, bad weather would lead to cancellation or delay of a conference. It is important that destination's weather to be stable. Locating in the subtropics of the South Hemisphere, Hong Kong is usually warm, where the average temperature is between 22.5 to 24.5 degree Celsius, and the four seasons are distinct (HKO, 2007). Moreover, natural disasters, such as hurricane, earthquake or tsunami, are almost isolated from Hong Kong. Therefore, Hong Kong is a safe, timely, convenient and comfortable place for visitors all over the world.

World Class Meetings Facilities
Hong Kong has two main conference and exhibition centers, which are the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center (HKCEC), and Asia World-Expo (AWE), providing totally over 130,000 square meters rentable function space. In addition, AWE is planning to expand the venue, providing over 60,000 square meters more space. These centers can handle large scale conference and like WTO Ministerial Conference. In addition, HKCEC has been awarded as Best Convention and Exhibition Center in Asia Pacific in the 2007 and 2005 industry survey. HKCEC and AWE are capable to hold large scale functions, providing high tech equipments and facilities when the organizers need that. Live video conference, instant translation, and or any ad hoc tasks are possible in these top class venues. On the other hand, there are plenty of choices, such as hotels, for middle and small scale conference. Except the use as accommodations, several hotels have been designed or even redesigned to be capable for holding conferences. For example, Mandarin Oriental provides business conference services with professional services. Complete equipments like visual and audio systems, computers, broadband and telecommunications are provided for conference users. These hotels might be efficient and convenient for organizers and attendees (Mandarin Oriental 2007). All in all, Hong Kong is equipped for meetings in all sizes.

Convenient Transportations
For external transportation, air plays an essential role. The Hong Kong international airport is one of the busiest airports on earth. This 24-hours airport provides services with over 85 airlines, over 5,000 flights per week to over 150 destinations (HKIA, 2007). Organizers and participants from Europe, Asia or Americas can travel to Hong Kong with a single flight at least. Materials can also be sent to Hong Kong in short time