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Dubai and Hong Kong: a tale of two cities

Your weekly event industry news roundup from ExpoPlatform – contrasting stories for Dubai and Hong Kong, how to meet sustainability goals and ExCel London given go ahead for expansion plans.

Dubai and Hong Kong: A tale of two cities

A major exhibition is relocating from Hong Kong to Dubai amid ongoing concerns about the region’s strict coronavirus rules for travellers.

APLF-Leather and Materials+ 2022 will now be taking place in the UAE in March following “extensive discussions” with industry stakeholders.

Dubai is open to international visitors and has already successfully held mega trade shows such as Gitex Technology Week, Gulfood and Arab Health.

Organisers Informa Markets took into account the contrasting scenario in Hong Kong when making their decision, where inbound travel requires testing and lengthy quarantine times.

David Bondi, senior vice president of Informa Markets Asia, added: “Organising APLF outside Hong Kong is a new experience for us, and also suppliers and buyers.

“But with Informa Markets’ strong presence in the Middle East and North African markets, our local resources and regional experience will complement our expertise and most certainly benefit the organisation of APLF’s Special Edition in Dubai.

“Add to that the positive feedback from our association partners all around the world and I am fully confident that a successful edition of APLF will be held in March 2022.”

The Hong Kong government announced in August it will be keeping some strict regulations until March 31.

Non-residents from high-risk countries – including the UK Kingdom and US – are banned from entering Hong Kong.

Vaccinated Hongkongers who return from those countries have to undergo 21-day quarantine.

Fears have been raised that these restrictions could deal a hammer blow to our industry in the region.

This comes in complete contrast with the success of our sector which is now booming in Dubai.

Alongside its major trade shows it had also seen the launch of Expo 2020, which will run for 182 days until March 31.

It includes presentations from 191 nations, making it the largest event to have ever been staged in the Middle East and North Africa. 

Organisers can ‘take a leaf out of UN sustainability goals’

Organisers can design sustainable events to match with social responsibilities by using specific UN goals, an industry leader has claimed.

Don Neal, 360 Live Media CEO, believes there is now opportunity to create environments which are transformative for attendees but can also futureproof businesses.

He said events can be based on any of the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals that are most likely to be accomplished and “align with the mission of the organisation”.

His comments come as ExpoPlatform launched its latest series focussing on futureproofing your business model through sustainability.

Meanwhile, Neal recommends these UN aims as a starting point:

  1. End poverty: Support local food banks, work with schools to pack healthy snacks and host fundraisers.
  2. Promote economic growth and work for all: Invite community colleges and institutes to visit your event, highlight opportunities for work and economic development.
  3. Take action to combat climate change: Reduce carbon footprint, get green certified by standard groups and encourage sponsors and exhibitors to support your initiatives. 

US easing of restrictions a boost for industry

The White House has confirmed its border reopening date which will allow vaccinated travellers into the US from land and air.

Officials have said this rule will come into effect from November 8 and will provide some much needed certainty for our industry as it continues to reopen.

It was previously announced that restrictions for vaccinated travellers would be eased sometime in early November, leaving those in the events and hospitality sectors on tenterhooks for more concrete information.

This latest development is expected to create a surge in attendance with land borders with Canada and Mexico to reopen as well.

The move comes just in time for IMEX America, which is due to take place from November 9 in Las Vegas.

In a statement, the group said: “We’re absolutely delighted that the US is easing travel restrictions from across the world into America from November 8.

“This decision is a massive morale booster for the industry.

“More importantly, it increases momentum for the US economy and its labour market and for the international travel sector in general.”

UK travel may ‘only recover by one-third’ this year

The UK’s travel and tourism sector’s year-on-year recovery may only claw back a third while international spending continues to plummet, according to new research.

Findings from WTTC, which represents the industry globally, shows the bounceback has been severely delayed by the lack of money from visitors.

It estimates the sector’s economic contribution could rise year-on-year by just under a third in 2021, broadly in line with the global average of 30.7%.

Julia Simpson, WTTC president, said: “WTTC research shows that while the global travel and tourism sector is beginning to recover, the UK continues to suffer big losses due to continuing travel restrictions that are tougher than the rest of Europe.
“Despite government announcements the UK still has a red list, costly PCR tests and a requirement for day two tests which simply put people off travel.

“Just as the world opens up the UK has more requirements for the double vaccinated than our neighbours.”

It comes as despite its successful vaccine rollout the UK is set to record further losses for inbound visitor spending than the previous year.

This is compared to a year in which international travel ground to an almost complete standstill.

The research goes on to show that international spending is predicted to plunge by nearly 50% on 2020 figures – one of the worst years on record for the Travel & Tourism sector – making it one of the worst performing countries in the world.

Optimism as ExCel London secures extension approval

ExCeL London has secured approval to expand the venue which will represent a significant investment in the Royal Docks venue. 

Newham Planning Committee gave the green light to the project which will deliver an additional 25,000sqm of premium event space.

Construction works are expected to start next year but the move will be a shot in the arm for confidence in our sector, which such largescale investment ongoing.

Jeremy Rees, ExCeL CEO,  said: “This decision is a key moment not just for ExCeL but for our customers and the entire UK events industry.

“The expansion of ExCeL will ensure that London and the UK remains internationally competitive and a destination of choice for world leading events, for years to come.

“Moreover, this investment will ensure that we can continue to meet the needs of our customers by providing opportunities for growth, complimented by a world class guest experience.”