The Hong Kong SAR Government, the Airport Authority (AA) and the consortium led by Dragages et Travaux Publics (HK) Limited (Dragages) today entered into a joint venture agreement for the design, construction and operation of a new AsiaWorld-Expo at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA).
The Financial Secretary, Mr Henry Tang, presided over the signing ceremony of the joint venture today. He said that the new exhibition centre represented a significant milestone for the continued growth of the exhibition industry in Hong Kong. It would complement Hong Kong's existing world-class facilities at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) in Wan Chai.
"This AsiaWorld-Expo/HKCEC combination will ensure that Hong Kong remains competitive in capturing the growing exhibition market in the region, has sufficient quality facilities to stage a wide range of exhibitions, and is unrivalled in its ability to accommodate large events., It will definitely take our convention and exhibition business to a new level and consolidate our position as the convention and exhibition hub in the Asia-Pacific region.
"I believe that the AsiaWorld-Expo will bring significant economic benefits to Hong Kong. A vibrant convention and exhibition industry in Hong Kong will contribute to strengthening our position as a trade fair capital and help attract more overseas visitors," Mr Tang said.
The AsiaWorld-Expo, with a first phase of 66,000 square metres of exhibition space on one level, will have the largest column-free exhibition halls in Hong Kong. Soft opening of the AsiaWorld-Expo will take place by the end of 2005 while the phase 1 development will be completed for full operation in the first quarter of 2006. The AsiaWorld-Expo will be capable of further expansion to 100,000 square metres exhibition space in response to market demand.
According to the joint venture agreement, the Government and the consortium led by Dragages will fund the construction cost of the AsiaWorld-Expo, whilst the AA will contribute the land, in exchange for equity stakes in the joint venture. The construction cost of the first phase development is estimated to be about HK$2.3 billion. The partners of the consortium include Yu Ming Investments and the operating partner NEC, Birmingham of the United Kingdom.
It is expected that the AsiaWorld-Expo will create about 2,000 jobs during the construction stage. While in operation, The AsiaWorld-Expo will directly employ about 150 staff, and indirectly about 800 staff. Many more employment opportunities will also be created in support of the activities held at the new centre and through tourism.
The Director-General of Investment Promotion at Invest Hong Kong, Mr Mike Rowse, who led the Government team responsible for organising and evaluation the tender exercise, wad delighted about the construction of the new exhibition centre. He said that Hong Kong clearly needed an additional facility to handle overflow from the HKCEC, and to accommodate events which may have particular floor loading and configuration requirements.
"Hong Kong is the premier location for international exhibitions in the region, Asia's world city and the best business location in the Asia-Pacific.
"The new AsiaWorld-Expo will enable Hong Kong to host a greater number and a wider range of exhibitions, reinforce Hong Kong's position as an international business centre and trade fair capital," Mr Rowse said.
Speaking after the signing ceremony, the Chief Executive Officer of the AA, Dr David J Pang said the AsiaWorld-Expo would be a key component of leveraging HKIA as the cornerstone of a multifaceted and aviation-based business hub.
"The AsiaWorld-Expo would be able to take advantage of the fact that the airport has connections to more than 140 cities worldwide on some 75 airlines. In addition, Hong Kong allows visa-free entry from a majority of those connections, which is another tremendous plus for an exhibition centre that can offer maximum convenience and accessibility to its customers," he said.
The Managing Director of Dragages, Mr Luc Messier, said the consortium was delighted to have entered into the joint venture agreement with the Government and AA to develop the world-class exhibition facility.
"The large, open exhibition space on one floor at the AsiaWorld-Expo will make it a perfect venue for trade and public exhibitions of all types, from consumer trade fairs to industrial fairs, and will also attract large public shows and entertainment events, thanks to its multi-purpose hall which can accommodate up to 13,500 moveable seats," he said.