Broader Hong Kong tourism plan by airport on way as AsiaWorld-Expo expands faster than Wan Chai sites, minister says

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Broader Hong Kong tourism plan by airport on way as AsiaWorld-Expo expands faster than Wan Chai sites, minister says

Tourism on Lantau Island will be repositioned, as an exhibition facility near Hong Kong International Airport expands to create “synergy” with other logistics and commercial establishments in the area.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah revealed on Thursday that the looming expansion of AsiaWorld-Expo might be ready earlier than buildings earmarked for redevelopment in Wan Chai North.

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To address Hong Kong’s shortage of exhibition venues, city officials have proposed transforming three government towers and Kong Wan Fire Station in Wan Chai. The idea is to link them with the existing Convention and Exhibition Centre, creating 312,000 sq ft of space.

The sites are expected to be vacated by 2026 at the earliest for demolition and redevelopment, according to the government’s plan.

“With this shortage of space overall, we will leave no stone unturned,” Yau said, referring to a lack of convention and exhibition establishments.

But the minister said officials would still need to talk to Hong Kong Airport Authority, which recently took over AsiaWorld-Expo Management, to iron out details.

“There obviously would be a lot of synergy between what’s happening on the airport island,” he said.

The extension is part of the government’s vision for Lantau to become an “aerotropolis” as outlined by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor in her policy address on Wednesday.

The area would comprise the airport, a high value-added logistics centre, the new phase of AsiaWorld-Expo, and a side of the artificial island that houses a border-crossing facility for the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge.

The Airport Authority also planned to develop its Skycity, a commercial complex now being built and attached to the airport. Yau said the land earmarked for the new addition to AsiaWorld-Expo “could possibly be developed in conjunction with the entire Skycity proposal”.

Addressing Ocean Park, one of the city’s major theme parks, Yau said some of its existing facilities were getting old and that officials would review its positioning and development in the future as well.

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In the face of “a lot of competition in neighbouring areas” and a changing environment, such a review would certainly be needed to plan for the future, he added.

Meanwhile, the minister said the park’s rival, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, had not given its phase two expansion proposal to the government. But Yau added that officials would be open to discussing it after the park finished its current extension plan.

A HK$10.9 billion expansion plan is in the works at the resort for the next six years. It is expected to bring attractions themed on the movie Frozen as well as Marvel characters.

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