Dr Charles YEUNG (Chairman of the 48th, 49th terms of office) Octomber 2015
The HKSAR Government can consider setting up a development fund for the cultural and creative industries to promote the industries where Hong Kong has certain strengths, such as films, music, dramas and animation, so that they become the pop icons in the Greater China and even Asia region.
So far this year, the Mainland and global economies have been erratic and the financial markets volatile. Hong Kong’s economy has also been affected and industries such as tourism and retailing are especially full of challenges. Faced with increased external economic uncertainties, Hong Kong’s economy will inevitably have to undergo appropriate adjustments. The business community should seek changes in a timely manner to actively align with the new developments in the Mainland and global markets, working together to find new economic growth drivers.
Improving tourism quality and service levels
The tourism and retail industries have always been an important economic growth driver for Hong Kong and produce a lot of employment opportunities. Recently, Hong Kong’s tourism and retail consumption markets have become more sluggish. The value of total retail sales has declined and tourist arrivals have continued to slow down. As a result, related industries such as F&B and hotels were affected. Concerned about the impact of the weak market conditions on businesses and the overall economy, the Chamber held the “Special Offer Campaign for Celebrating Reunification Anniversary” for two consecutive years to bring cheer to the retail and F&B industries by encouraging residents and tourists to spend to boost tourism and retail consumption in Hong Kong.
In fact, Hong Kong’s locally-driven customs and practices, genuine goods at reasonable prices and excellent services are all unique selling points to attract tourists. We must actively maintain and enhance them by improving the quality of services and products, as well as further opening up more fine-quality tourism routes and high value-added tourism services. Just late last month, the HKSAR Government announced the establishment of a matching fund to focus on supporting the overseas promotion of local attractions. In addition, early this year, it earmarked additional funds for the HKTB to assist the retail and F&B industries in their promotional activities. All of these will help attract tourists and boost Hong Kong’s consumer market.
In our view, the HKSAR Government can further strengthen cooperation with the business community to respond to changes in market demand by integrating Hong Kong’s tourism and consumption projects, e.g. combining festival events that have local characteristics, such as the Bun Festival and Fire Dragon Dance. For product sales, we should add more local production and design elements, as well as act in tandem with the authorities’ development of Lantau Island into a tourist attraction in order to open up more new attractions and new tourist sources, striving to reshape Hong Kong’s image as a “hospitable city” and “shopping paradise”.
Strengthening support for the cultural and creative industries
Furthermore, in recent years, countries and regions across the world have been competing to develop local emerging cultural and creative industries. In this regard, Hong Kong has considerable development potential and strengths. Earlier, the film group set up jointly by US and Chinese companies announced that it will establish its headquarters in Hong Kong, which precisely demonstrates that Hong Kong has its unique strengths and attractiveness in the development of the film and cultural and creative industries in Asia. We believe that the HKSAR Government can consider setting up a development fund for the cultural and creative industries to promote the industries where Hong Kong has certain strengths, such as films, music, dramas and animation, so that they become the pop icons in the Greater China and even Asia region. The authorities can also strengthen their ties with financial institutions and consider providing financing services to the cultural and creative industries or even investing in new creative enterprises to alleviate the difficulties and pressures they face when raising funds.
The Chamber has always attached importance to the development of the cultural and creative industries. Through hosting forums and seminars and organising visits in the Mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, the Chamber’s Cultural Industries Committee aims to deepen exchanges and cooperation among the cultural and creative industries and explore business opportunities. We are also conducting special studies to gain in-depth understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing the development of Hong Kong’s cultural and creative industries. By drawing on the experience of the neighbouring regions, we make specific policy recommendations to the HKSAR Government on promoting industrial development and the role the business community can play.
Moderate and concrete support for industrial development
Faced with the new economic situation, Hong Kong must appropriately adjust its development model in order to enhance its overall competitive advantage. Taking from the development experience of the surrounding regions, it is not difficult to find that the local governments are focused on providing policy support in the interests of economic development. We hope the HKSAR Government can, whenever necessary, moderately and concretely guide and support the development of Hong Kong’s industries and businesses. It can, for instance, provide targeted policy support in the areas of land supply, rent concessions, fiscal support and market development in order to lessen the problems commonly encountered by the tourism and cultural and creative industries, such as lack of land for development and high rentals. Hong Kong’s business community will cooperate fully and work together to find a new impetus and direction for development so that Hong Kong will always stay ahead of the competition no matter how strong it is, thus creating a new glorious chapter for the Pearl of the Orient.