In the World Bank's 'Ease of Doing Business' ranking, Hong Kong and Singapore are among the Top Five, ahead of 185 countries including Germany. Both have been positioning themselves on the international meetings market with important future-oriented themes.
fter nine years of intensive construction work, China on October 24 of this year opened the world's longest sea bridge: the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HKZM). It extends over a length of 55 kilometers, making it 20 times as long as San Francisco's landmark Golden Gate Bridge. The HKZM links the megapolis Zhuhai on the mainland with the Special Economic Zones Hong Kong and Macao and cuts traveling time from four hours to 45 minutes. The bridge is a national project, which is why it was ceremoniously inaugurated by Chinese President Xi Jinping. The imposing US$19 billion structure will help improve personnel and trade exchanges among Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macao, benefit the development of the area, and enhance the comprehensive competitiveness of the Pearl River Delta.
"Opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge solidifies Hong Kong's position as a transportation hub within Asia. Our city easily connects travelers with neighboring cities on the mainland and provides other access opportunities for those already in China," said Dawn Page, Director of the Hong Kong Tourism Board for the UK and Northern Europe. The bridge is situated on Lantau Island, close to Hong Kong International Airport with over 1,100 flights per day from 220 worldwide destinations. On completion in 2030, the airport will have the capacity for 100 million passengers, compared to 70 million today. Hong Kong is growing its role as hub, it's only a relatively short flight to the Asian metropolises Beijing and Shanghai, Taipei, Manila, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, less than five hours to half the world’s population. As affiliate to the Hong Kong Tourism Board, Meetings and Exhibitions Hong Kong (MEHK) emphasizes and promotes this wealth of transport connections as invaluable economic advantages for organizers of congresses and expos.
And the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge extends all the way into the conference rooms as well: at the Belt & Road Summit 2018, for example, which is centered on topics such as Infrastructure Financing und Chinese Infrastructure Investments as well as 230 other investment projects (Energy, Natural Resources & Public Utilities; Transports & Logistics Infrastructure; Rural & Urban Development). Some 5,000 visitors from 55 countries registered at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC). Located on Victoria Harbour, the HKCEC operates five exhibition halls on an expanse of 53,292 sqms, two congress halls seating 6,100 delegates, two theaters and 52 conference rooms. The complex is linked to the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong and the Renaissance Harbour View Hotel Hong Kong with a total of 1,400 hotel rooms. Another 11,000 hotel rooms are located within walking distance; Hong Kong has a total of 78,000 hotels rooms in altogether 270 hotels.
In business year July 2017 thru June 2018, the HKCEC registered 1,061 events, among these 118 exhibitions and 166 international and local conferences, along with hundreds of corporate meetings, banquets and entertainment events. "We are proud of the results, but we would not rest on our laurels. We continue to look for opportunities to improve and share our success with our business partners, staff members and community at large," said Managing Director Monica Lee-Müller. The commitment is reflected in the 30th anniversary slogan: 'Breakthrough Advance Together'.
It's not only the HKCEC's 30th anniversary that puts it in the limelight, but also its sustainability initiative 'Think Before Plastic' aimed at abolishing disposable plastic cutlery items in all restaurant outlets. The Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre expects to reduce plastic consumption by more than 1.3 million pieces of disposable plastic cutlery items and 330,000 plastic straws in a single year; the center encourages its visitors to bring their own drinking bottles and to refill these at the 18 water fountains throughout the facility. "All of us — venue operators, event organizers, exhibitors, buyers, visitors, event attendees — have a responsibility towards our environment," said Lee-Müller in her effort to propagate new awareness in a more sustainability-minded event industry. Customers, event organizers, contractors, suppliers and stakeholders in the event industry ought to think before using disposable plastic items. HKCEC in 2015 was the first organization in Hong Kong to be certified in accordance with ISO 20121 Event Sustainability Management System standards.
The Singapore International Water Week 2018 took place at the business and leisure complex Marina Bay Sands. PHOTO: MARINA BAY SANDS
One year before, the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore was the first venue to be ISO 20121 certified. The city-state declared 2018 to be the Year of Climate Action. Climate change and its impact on water systems was one of the topics of discussion at the Singapore International Water Week 2018 (SIWW). Organized by the World Cities Summit and CleanEnviro Summit Singapore, the global water conference attracted more than 24,000 participants. The 'Water Leaders Summit' alone mobilized 500 water leaders from governments, organizations, academia and private companies, among these Zhuang Guotai, Vice- Minister, Ministry of Ecology and Environment, China; Kristalina Georgieva, Chief Executive Officer, for the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Development Association; and Ban Ki-moon, 8th Secretary-General, United Nations.
"SIWW 2018 marks ten years since the first event in 2008, and this year's edition is the culmination of the last decade's efforts in driving industry growth and helping to shape a much more sophisticated and forward-looking water industry," said Bernard Tan, Managing Director of SIWW. The Singapore International Water Week 2018 concluded on a high, garnering close to S$23 billion in total value for landmark announcements: the World Bank will carry out 18 water projects worth S$3.5 billion in FY19/FY20 in East Asia & The Pacific and South Asia Regions while Andhra Pradesh will invest S$8.4 billion in water infrastructure from 2016 to 2029.
'Think Before Plastic' is Monica Lee-Müller‘s sustainability initiative at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC). PHOTO: HKCEC
The Singapore Exhibition & Convention Bureau (SECB) supports the Singapore International Water Week. As part of the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), SECB's mission is to grow, nurture and reinforce Singapore's reputation as a dynamic business events destination. In that process, Singapore has its focus on nine key industries such as Aerospace & Logistics, Applied Health Sciences, Travel and Urban Solutions; the city-state considers itself to be a 'Living Lab of Sustainability'. According to a United Nations expertise, in 2026 one of two Asians will be living in a city. Mega cities with more than 20 million inhabitants will put pressure on finite resources such as land, energy and clean water.
Limited availability of land and resources in conjunction with growing populace had forced Singapore to engage in more sustainability-oriented urban planning, as a consequence it is today a model region. Owing to its urban solutions Singapore has been positioning itself as hub for global congresses on urban solutions – from transportation and public housing, to energy management and water treatment. These include global events such as the Singapore International Water Week, the World Cities Summit and CleanEnviro Summit Singapore as well as the Singapore International Energy Week, the Singapore Green Building Week and the Singapore International Transport Congress and Exhibition.
The Singapore Exhibition & Convention Bureau is supporting meeting managers from all over the world to plan their conferences. The SECB seeks to encourage the growth of business events with innovative content in the country. Through the Business Events in Singapore (BEiS) scheme, it offers customized support such as help in securing venues, introductions with leading government agencies and business partners, as well as marketing and publicity. Events will be considered based on several factors including its content, brand and delegate profile and eligible companies will receive funding support through the scheme.
In addition to the strong industry players and alliances, Singapore is promoting its world-class infrastructure: the Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre, Singapore EXPO Convention & Exhibition Centre, hotels with conference capacities as well as the Marina Bay Sands, impressive ensemble for business, leisure and entertainment. The complex features 2,560 rooms, 30,000 sqms exhibition space, flexible meeting facilities, 24 ballrooms including Southeast Asia's largest ballroom for banquets with up to 5,000 guests – and the Rooftop Sands Skypark. Located in downtown Singapore, the Marina Bay Sands is within walking distance from the Central Business District and only a 20-minute car ride from Changi International Airport. 7,200 flights a week take off and land here. Similar to Hong Kong, Singapore with its strategic location commends itself as major air and sea hub in Asia. KERSTIN WÜNSCH