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Fair Bolsters SAR's Reputation As Asia's Toy Headquarters (HKTDC Toys & Games ,1998)

July 1998
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Fair Bolsters SAR's Reputation As Asia's Toy Headquarters

THE expansion to the new extension of the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) gave the Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair '98 a big boost - and the 1999 event is set to build on that success, with more facilities and services than ever before.

The next toys fair will be held on 11-14 January 1999, when HKCEC will be turned into one huge toyland. More than 1,450 companies are expected to participate, representing eight product categories:

  • soft toys and tools;
  • die-cast/mechanical toys and action figures;
  • educational toys and games;
  • battery-operated and electronic toys;
  • baby toys and products;
  • party items, toy parts and accessories;
  • outdoor and sporting items;
  • and general trading.

Perry Fung, sales exhibitions manager at the fair's organiser, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC), is upbeat about the 1999 fair, despite the ongoing Asian financial crisis. "The current economic situation will have virtually no effect on the long-term development of the fair," he said.

"We have already received a very encouraging reaction to next year's fair. Following on from the expansion of the 1998 event, people have even more confidence in the Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair as Asia's largest and most important toy event, and this status is not affected by short-term economic occurrences."

Fung expects that the upcoming toy fair will mirror the trend seen at the Hong Kong Gifts & Houseware Fair '98, held last April, which experienced "tremendous overall" growth in overseas visitor numbers (up 35%), with the highest growth rates being from the European, North American and South American markets.

The 1998 toys fair attracted 14,096 visitors from 105 countries and territories, and 1,454 exhibitors from 27 territories, which took up 46,600 square metres of gross exhibition area. The number of overseas visitors was down 26% on the previous year's figures, mainly due to the Asian financial turmoil.

However, while overall visitors from Asia dropped 30%, Japan was down by only 5%, showing that it remains the major market in the region. Taiwan was well-represented, as was the US, with companies from both areas sending more than 900 visitors each. Mainland China visitors totalled 500.

More than 80% of the visitors surveyed said they came to Hong Kong specifically for the toys fair; 70% said their main purposes were to place orders and source products; and 53% said it was to make new business contacts. One visitor, Pirogou Alexander from Piramida, Russia, said: "It's always worth coming here, there is so much choice and I've already placed a lot of orders."

Asian exhibitors made up the largest share with 94%. Of those exhibitors surveyed, 75% rated the quality of visitors as good or satisfactory. CM Lee of the Guangdong Toys Assn, from the mainland, commented: "Despite the recent financial crisis, Hong Kong is still stable and so here we meet buyers from all over the world. Hong Kong can help our manufacturers to access international markets."

Group pavilions represented mainland China, Germany, South Korea, Macau, Spain, Taiwan and Thailand. According to Fung, both the size and numbers of pavilions are expected to increase in 1999.

The 1998 show was the first time the Toys & Games Fair had taken place in the HKCEC extension. Not only did this give the fair more space, but enhanced services, too, including the Rendezvous Hospitality Lounge and the Customer Service Centre, with a range of amenities including Internet access.

Thirteen sets of the Exhibitor Locator System, equipped with user-friendly software and large touch-screen LCD monitors, were installed to help visitors locate exhibitors, and a fully computerised buyer-registration system generated bar-coded admission badges to all visitors.

All these facilities will be an integral part of the 1999 fair, along with other new developments. "There will be a further refinement of product categories so that buyers can easily find what they want without wasting time," said Fung. "We will also try to make some improvements to the buyers' registration process. For example, we are investigating the possibility of co-operating with some of the major hotels to see whether we can pre-register buyers at their hotels, so they don't have to queue up at the centre's counters."

Fung said that TDC will also try to boost some of the sections, especially baby toys and sporting goods. "For example, [we want] to include other baby products alongside toys, and to expand the scope of sporting equipment," he explained.

The 1998 fair included a seminar entitled "Hong Kong: Your Regional Licensing Partner", which drew enthusiastic attention, and there is a possibility that a dedicated Licensing Section will be added to the 1999 show.

Written by Ann Williams

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