Most meetings are continuing despite Occupy Central, Prudence Lui reports
The Occupy Central Movement that started end-September has sent thousands of protesters to the streets of Hong Kong’s central business districts, leading to the closure of major roads and hampering traffic. The protests have also spread to the commercial areas of Causeway Bay and Mongkok.
The city’s MICE business has inevitably been affected. Some events, such as the 4th Nobel Laureates Symposium on Global Sustainability originally scheduled for October 8-11, were cancelled.
Langham Place, Mongkok, situated a block away from the protest scene, noted a slight slowdown in short-term enquiries for October and November. Its general manager, Shaun Campbell, said: “Customers were either considering other locations or holding their bookings to see if the protests would conclude (Mongkok is still preferred for its central location). In cases where events wanted to relocate, our first priority was to offer our sister hotels, The Langham and Eaton.”
Fortunately for Eaton Hong Kong, it saw only one meeting cancellation when the protests started. Its director of sales and marketing, Edward Hobson, said in late October: “Everything (corporate meetings) is going ahead as planned towards year-end. Fortunately, we’re in a location that isn’t affected and we’re also within easy reach.”
Corporate event management companies too, did not report much impact on business. While International Conference Consultants has held and will be holding all its meetings as scheduled as clients viewed the unrest as a peaceful one, Cievents only had to rearrange transport for one group that came in October due to the roadblocks.
Pacific World Hong Kong’s destination manager, Ivy Sung, said: “December is usually low season for us, so there’s no real impact. But I have a proposal for a 100-pax meeting in 2015, and the client has asked me not to develop it further after the protests started.”
Meanwhile, Momentous Asia Travel and events general manager, Doris Lam, has observed some traffic shifting to the outskirts. She said: “Hong Kong is a very compact city and even if the hotels are not in the city centre, as long as they are near the MTR, it is not too big a concern. Besides, outskirt hotels are relatively new and more ‘techie’ and so appeal to some clients.”
Despite the minimal impact, DMC-The Destination Management Company’s general manager, Luke Mitchell, nevertheless cautioned: “As most foreign media coverage is always on the violence, Hong Kong is starting to look like a dangerous place, even though it isn’t. If the protests drag on, the city’s reputation will definitely be affected.”
International SOS and Control Risks has so far handled 95 security cases directly related to the protests from its members. Said its security director, Lane Aldred: “The majority of cases for assessment and advice were dependent on members’ geographical location within the city.
“However, while pro-democracy protests are likely to continue to flare up intermittently to 2017 or beyond, they are unlikely to cause long-term disruption to business. A majority of Hong Kong residents still favour stable relations with China, and will resist any political upheaval that threatens the city’s long-term political and economic stability.”
Aldred noted that while not any one segment is particularly more affected than another, the retail and catering industries in ‘occupied’ areas are suffering. At the same time the government is collecting data to assess the impact of the protests on the economy, he said there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that credit card spending has dipped in the major shopping areas of Mongkok, Central and Causeway Bay.
Nevertheless, he added that Hong Kong remains a low-risk travel destination. “Serious, widespread, or destabilising unrest is highly unlikely. The campaign has lost momentum, and turnout is expected to be limited. Effective crowd-control measures will also ensure disturbances remain contained, even within the compact central business districts of the city. While all protests should be avoided…the main concern for travellers arise from potential delays in travelling within the city.”
A day tour in Hong Kong
Begin the day travelling up to Victoria Peak on the Peak Tram. From the Sky Terrace atop, take in the spectacular 360-degree view of the city, with its corporate skyscrapers and quiet outlying islands. Explore the galleries and shops for a while before descending the Peak via the central and mid-level escalator system – the longest outdoor covered escalator system (800m) in the world with 20 escalators and two moving footways.
The next stop is Central, at the heart of Hong Kong. Embark on a one-hour walking tour of the metropolis, which will take you back to the early days of British rule with the historic buildings, while the towering skyscrapers keep you grounded in the present. Enjoy lunch at a traditional tea house or Dim Sum restaurant – a must-have Hong Kong culinary experience.
Post-lunch, take the Star Ferry from Central Pier to Tsim Sha Tsui, where activities abound. Visit the Art Gallery and Hong Kong Cultural Centre, walk down the Avenue of Stars which honours celebrities of the Hong Kong film industry, get lost in the myriad of streets and mega malls, enjoy afternoon tea at the Peninsula Hotel, or stroll along Nathan Road, known also as The Golden Mile.
For a memorable dinner, 21 floors up from the bustling Nathan Road is the Wooloomooloo Prime restaurant. Wind down with a glass of cocktail on the outdoor terrace offering 270-degree view of Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Island. Dine as the sun sets and the lights of the city are switched on, culminating at 20.00 in A Symphony of Lights, a multimedia light, laser and music show involving 40 of the city’s buildings.
Itinerary by MCI Hong Kong
Need to know
Hotel with a visual impact
InterContinental Hong Kong has installed the city’s largest hotel ballroom LED wall. About 12m long and 4m wide, the wall is able to present live event coverage, graphic effects and a ‘live feed’ of the hotel’s spectacular view of Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Island. Event packages comprising these different backdrop options are available.
Call (852) 2313-2211 or email email@example.com for more information.
Revamped Royal Plaza
Royal Plaza Hotel now dons a new look following a two-year renovation.
The 699 guestrooms, hotel lobby, drive way, F&B outlets, health club and grand ballroom all boast a new contemporary design.
Guestrooms are equipped with complimentary Wi-Fi, a 40/46-inch LED TV, as well as a USB charging socket on the wall.
Facilities added include the Lion Rock Bar and junior ballroom, both on level 3, Royal Room (level 1) and massage centre (level 8).
Digging into black gold
The Peninsula Academy’s 90-minute Caviar Connoisseurship: A Gourmet Class in Refining Tastes teaches guests how to appreciate the ‘black gold’ and shows how chefs’ pick premium caviars. Guests will also be taught subtle training of the palate in order to sample the delicacy with the world’s finest vodkas and champagnes. Advance booking is recommended.
Call (852) 2696 6693 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Gordon Ramsay restaurant
Gordon Ramsay has partnered Dining Concept Group to open the Hong Kong edition of his popular London dining establishment, Bread Street Kitchen & Bar, in Lan Kwai Fong. The restaurant features a 90-seat dining area and bar seating for 30 pax, as well as a private room for 12 pax. Find signature British-European cuisine in a warehouse-style venue with a mixed vintage and modern décor.
New private event venue
Xi Yan Penthouse offers four spacious dining cum function rooms, which can be transformed into a 100-seat banqueting space. The roof terrace is flexible for outdoor parties of up to 180 guests. The venue also caters for seminars, exhibitions, conferences and workshops. Its show kitchen cum chef’s table enables the video recording of cooking shows.
Call (852) 3622-3912 or email email@example.com