MICE groups unfazed by protests in Hong Kong

HONG Kong’s MICE sector has not been significantly affected by the on-going pro-democracy protests that have paralysed parts of the city over the past week, travel specialists and hoteliers at IT&CMA say.

The Occupy Central demonstrations, which include the occupation of key commercial districts such as Tsim Sha Tsui, Wan Chai and Mong Kok by protestors, spurred a surge in enquires about safety and security but have so far resulted in only a few cancellations, trade sources said.

Anvy Wang, marketing executive at Silvermine Beach Resort, said the property had “one or two cancellations,” adding that the demonstrations had not yet led to properties discounting their room rates.

“We are receiving enquiries, some groups are worried about the situation but they’re generally not cancelling,” said Wang.

One hotelier, speaking on condition of anonymity, said she did not think the demonstrations would last too long. “I don’t think they will have much of an impact on trade. We have had some cancellations on both the MICE and leisure front, but we’re just coming into peak exhibition season, so I don’t think those groups will cancel,” she opined.

Agents bringing groups into the destination said the protests had raised concerns about safety and security.

“Corporate clients want safe destinations,” said Robert Szulc, managing director of Boomerang in Poland. “When they see problems they tend to move. That said we haven’t had any cancellations (for Hong Kong) yet.

“Some clients are calling us wanting to know more about what’s happening. We collect information from official sources, such as the government and the police, and report back to them, so that helps,” he added.

Mario Corrado, associate partner of Offbeat Venues in Belgium which focuses on the Benelux market, said he is still planning to bring a group to Hong Kong in the near future. “I don’t think it will get to the level of serious cancellations,” he said. “My clients haven’t even asked about the situation.”

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