SCMP Saturday, May 5, 2001

Forum delegates set for $48m spending spree


Guests at the Fortune Global Forum next week will spend an estimated five times more than the average conference-goer, providing Hong Kong with a multi-million dollar windfall.
The average overseas visitor to a three-day conference in the SAR spends about $11,300. But the 700 dignitaries at the forum, 150 of whom will fly in with their spouses, are each expected to spend more than $56,000 during their four-day stay, said Suzanne Dennis of the Hong Kong Tourism Board.
It is estimated the guests' total spending will put $48 million into the economy.
"This is based on the fact that it's an invitation-only event. Only companies with a minimum net worth of US$5 billion (HK$39 billion) are invited and [the delegates] are presidents or heads of companies," Ms Dennis said.
"These delegates are spending 4.8 nights on average . . . Some of them will stay longer as it's close to the weekend. So they are here for a bit longer, which is good for Hong Kong as they will spend more money."
Ms Dennis said shopping was "the obvious thing the wealthy upmarket delegates" would do. She said the board had put forward to the forum's organiser travelling tips for visitors, which included going to the Heritage Museum and taking calligraphy and jade appreciation classes.
Meanwhile, people wanting to check into hotels in Wan Chai close to the Convention and Exhibition Centre - the venue for much of the forum - may find it too late to get accommodation as many are full or almost full.
Hotel occupancy will be further boosted by the biennial food and drink exhibition Hofex, which will coincide with the three-day forum and also be held at the Convention Centre.
"We are fully booked next week due mainly to the two events," said a spokeswoman for Renaissance Harbour View Hotel.
A spokeswoman for the Grand Hyatt Hotel said yesterday it had only a few rooms available.
"We expect our occupancy rate to hit 100 per cent next week and our restaurants to be full-house on Tuesday," she said, referring to the firework display planned for the evening.