Hong Kong is on the move, literally and figuratively. The Asian business hub just took the wraps off two major projects that are enhancing connectivity: the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail, 16 miles of railway linking Hong Kong to China’s high-speed rail network.
The projects put Hong Kong within convenient reach of cities in the Pearl River Delta (aka Greater Bay Area) and beyond, and with the bridge in place, travel time between the Mainland city of Zhuhai and Hong Kong is cut down from about four hours to 30 minutes.
“With the completion of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and high- speed rail Hong Kong section, the city has further strengthened its position as a dominant gateway to Mainland China,” said Kenneth Wong, general manager, MICE and Cruise Division, Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB).
“As the city connects to 50 Mainland cities by direct flights, it now also takes less than one hour to Macao and the western coast of the Pearl River Delta via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge," he added. "What’s more, with the Hong Kong high-speed rail link, which began operation on September 23, the city connects to the 13,670-mile national high-speed rail network.”
Aside from convenience, the added accessibility helps groups coming to the region.
Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge
“For the MICE sector, these have provided a mega boost in connectivity, with additional efficient travel options, and are set to become a great attendance generator for MICE planners,” Wong continued. “And it also facilitates the multi-destination travel between Hong Kong and the Mainland for corporate meeting and incentive groups getting easier than ever. For conventions, organizers also realize the potential of cross-border itineraries for excursions, exchange and business opportunities.”
Another headline transit project is SKYCITY, an upcoming development adjacent to Hong Kong International Airport and AsiaWorld-Expo (AWE). The 61-acre SKYCITY, one of the largest commercial projects in Hong Kong, is scheduled to open in phases from 2023 to 2027, and will offer retail, dining and entertainment facilities tailored for events. In addition, Regal Hotels is scheduled to open a more than 1,000-room property by 2020/2021 that will connect AWE with SKYCITY and the airport, and provide a range of meeting options to compliment AWE’s existing facilities.
Xiqu Centre, West Kowloon
Added to Hong Kong’s infrastructure boom, it is investing in its cultural riches with equal fervor, such as the 100-acre West Kowloon Cultural District, one of the largest cultural projects in the world, blending art, education and open space.
“The city is also a cultural melting pot, and 2018 sees it getting another boost in terms of major cultural venues which will put the city’s DNA—East-meets-West and old-meets-new—on full display,” Wong said.
“For instance, the recent additions of Tai Kwun, West Kowloon Xiqu Centre and The Mills is proof that while Hong Kong might be a world-class business city, it’s so much more than that," he added. "Its culture and diversity of experience will certainly bring authentic experiences to MICE travelers.”
Following are just five of the many group options to experience Hong Kong’s rich culture.
1. Old Town Central: Last year the HKTB promoted five self-guided themed walking routes to discover the 100-year-old neighborhood Old Town Central (OTC), home to the towering skyscrapers of Hong Kong’s financial district.
The area brings together unique tourism hot spots in Central and Sheung Wan, as the walking routes highlight historical architecture and landmarks, such as the 1847-era Man Mo Temple, paying tribute to the God of Literature (Man) and the God of War (Mo). Other walking routes feature arts and culture, Cantonese and international restaurants, and lifestyle boutiques.
Meetings and Exhibitions Hong Kong (MEHK), a division of the HKTB, officially launched an Old Town Central MICE guide. The Ultimate MICE Guide, available in print and digital, features recommendations by planners from four markets across the region to help organize teambuilding activities and dining adventures within the OTC.
Teambuilding options highlighted in the guide include a scavenger hunt as well as classes in arts and crafts, and food tasting, among others.
SKYCITY, Hong Kong International Airport
2. Tai Kwun: Located on the site of the former Central Police Station compound, Tai Kwun was recently revitalized and reopened as a cultural hub. Spanning three declared monument buildings—the former Central Police Station, Central Magistracy and Victoria Prison—Tai Kwun, with more than 170 years of history, is an arts and heritage center home to galleries, small-scale exhibition spaces as well as a theater with over 200 seats.
Groups can use the Duplex studio for 130 people, JC Cube for 200 theater-style, Parade Ground for 600 and Prison Yard for up to 600 people.
3. The Mills: Once the heart of Nan Fung Textiles, Mills 4, 5 and 6, built in the 1950s and ’60s, were recently transformed into a single complex that is The Mills, a revitalization project from the Nan Fung Group. A destination consisting of a business incubator, experiential retail and a nonprofit cultural institution, it is a unique new venue for textile- and fashion-inspired meetings or can host off-site events.
4. Xiqu Centre: Part of the West Kowloon Cultural District, Xiqu Centre when it opens in January will pay homage to Cantonese opera and other forms of Chinese traditional theater, and can host functions integrating music, literature, martial arts and dance. The eight-story building will house a Tea House Theatre, with a capacity of up to 200 seats, eight professional studios and a seminar hall.
The building’s main feature will be the Grand Theatre, located on the top floor, with 1,073 seats.
5. Festival City: Hong Kong hosts festivals and events year-round that attendees can take part and immerse themselves in. The festivals are built around seven core experiences, including arts and culture, with its Arts Month in April, and dining, with festivals like Wine & Dine in October.
The Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival in June is one of the most popular.
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Hong Kong Tourism Board
Meetings & Exhibitions Hong Kong