The much anticipated AsiaWorld-Expo, Hong Kong's largest exhibition and events complex located at the Hong Kong International Airport, was opened today by the Hong Kong SAR Chief Executive Mr Donald Tsang and senior representatives of the shareholding and management companies.
The HK$2.35 billion (US$300 million) state-of-the-art facility, which is one of the largest in the region, is designed to further enhance Hong Kong's position as a leading exhibition and events hub, and to give Hong Kong the opportunity to host world-class entertainment and special events with a truly regional reach.
At the opening ceremony, Mr Tsang said that this new addition to Hong Kong's infrastructure was one of the many initiatives which the Government had been spearheading in recent years.
Mr Tsang said, "When we adopted the brandname 'Asia's World City' for Hong Kong a few years ago, it was intended to be partly descriptive and partly aspirational. We have since been working hard to live up to the promise of being a premier city in the region and beyond. With the opening of AsiaWorld-Expo, we have turned another small part of our vision into reality."
"One major role of Hong Kong is to serve as a regional hub and a base for international and, increasingly, Mainland companies to manage their business operations in East Asia. A complementary role is to serve as a two-way springboard: for companies from around the world wishing to access the Mainland of China, in particular the Pearl River Delta, and for Mainland companies to launch themselves into the international marketplace.
"It is no coincidence that many of the exhibitions to be held here in the coming years are to show off Chinese goods and services to the world. Others will show the world's best products to an increasingly sophisticated and substantial market in the Mainland," he said.
AsiaWorld-Expo will complement the existing first-rate facilities in the city, and together they will ensure that Hong Kong has world-class venues to meet the growth in demand for exhibition and conference space.
Mr Tsang also pointed out that AsiaWorld-Expo exemplified the partnership between the public sector and the private sector. He said, "The Government is putting a substantial amount of equity for the new facility, in recognition that it is our responsibility to provide the infrastructure to revive the economy, enable the economy to flourish and grow. The private sector has also played a critical role in ensuring the success of the project."
As well as being one of the largest and most high tech facilities in the world, the new centre is one of the most conveniently located exhibition and events venues, and the only one in the world that combines full integration with a busy international airport and the service of an in-venue railway station. Visitors to AsiaWorld-Expo can literally walk straight from the exhibition halls to the platform of the Airport Express train and connect to anywhere in Hong Kong served by the Mass Transit Railway (MTR).
The venue provides 70,000 square metres of rentable space, with 10 state-of-the-art ground level exhibition and events halls, including the 13,500-seat AsiaWorld-Arena, the biggest purpose-built indoor seated entertainment arena in Hong Kong. The AsiaWorld-Arena has been designed to host sophisticated world-class events ranging from mega-superstar concerts to large scale sporting and entertainment extravaganzas.
Mr Mike Rowse, Chairman of AsiaWorld-Expo, emphasised the importance of AsiaWorld-Expo to Hong Kong's appeal as a regional centre. He said, "Today starts a new chapter in the development of AsiaWorld-Expo. Entering the operation phase, the emphasis of our work switches to filling the Centre with new events and giving our customers world-class service. The substantial bookings for AsiaWorld-Expo so far and favourable projections for the future will place Hong Kong even more firmly at the forefront of the conference, exhibition and event industry in Asia."
"AsiaWorld-Expo has already established an impressive event calendar with more than 30 major international exhibitions and events scheduled for 2006. These events are virtually all firsts to the city and the majority of them are recurring events for subsequent years. These events are estimated to bring approximately HK$4 billion of economic benefits to Hong Kong in our first year of operation," said Mr Nicolas Borit, Chief Executive Officer of AsiaWorld-Expo Management Limited.
Built within a multi-modal transportation hub, AsiaWorld-Expo is just a few minutes' stroll or a one minute train ride from the award winning Hong Kong International Airport. This makes AsiaWorld-Expo easily accessible to the 35 million international travellers a year who arrive in Hong Kong aboard some 5,000 flights a week from 144 international destinations. Through its integration with the Airport, AsiaWorld-Expo is within 5 hours' flying time of half the world's population, and through the comprehensive road network and cross boundary bus services, it is less than 90 minutes' reach from key cities in the fast growing Pearl River Delta Region, making it an extremely valuable business platform for Hong Kong, the Mainland of China and the rest of the world.