My friend and fellow member of the Vision 2047 Foundation, Stephen Brown has strong and well articulated on many things. Much of the time he's right.
In his column in today's Standard newspaper, I'd have to say that he's half right. The article suggests the following and I agree with all of this:
- That the Venetian launch was a cracking success.
- That the convention and exhibition business is an important part of the mix in Macau and that Adelson's track record in Las Vegas is impressive.
- That the Venetian will be pushing hard to win market share.
- That the Hong Kong industry will look to the government to help it respond.
In the long term, you can either back the Hong Kong Trade Development Council to run a more successful convention business than the man from Las Vegas or you can vote the other way. I know which way I would choose.Although it's fair to say that the government has made a major contribution of land to the two exhibition venues in town, it's hardly fair to suggest that the TDC's trade fairs are subsidised. The TDC argues (with some justification) that it's highly profitable exhibitions activity actually reduces the subsidies required for other trade promotion activities.
Brown's argument also conveniently ignores the very important contribution made to Hong Kong's exhibitions and conventions industry by private sector players such as CMP Asia, Kenfair and, more recently and very dramatically, Global Sources. The latter announced just yesterday another expansion of their already impressive activities at AsiaWorld-Expo. They may not have Diana Ross - although I did get to post pictures of CEO Merle Hinrichs with belly dancers in tow earlier this year - but they're not going to adopt the James Tien solution and simply roll over for the Las Vegas Sands' aggressive sales team.