Big-tent exhibitions have staged a spectacular comeback in Hong Kong as one of the city’s flagship events, the HKTDC Hong Kong Book Fair, drew more than 830,000 visitors, near the one million-plus total achieved in recent years before the outbreak of COVID-19.
The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) staged the 31st Book Fair after a one-year hiatus amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The event was not exclusively for bookworms – fairgoers could also visit the concurrent HKTDC Hong Kong Sports and Leisure Expo and the debut HKTDC World of Snacks. The seven-day fairs offered a brand-new experience by bringing together a broad selection of books, sports and leisure products and snacks from more than 760 exhibitors.
Physical fair comeback
“This year’s Hong Kong Book Fair attracted more than 830,000 visitors over its seven-day run,” HKTDC Deputy Executive Director Benjamin Chau said as the fairs closed on Tuesday.
“The Hong Kong Sports and Leisure Expo and the debut World of Snacks also drew eager participation, offering visitors a wide range of activities and products, as well as a relaxing and diverse experience,” he added.
Mr Chau expected that the gradual recovery of the local economy will lead to the return of more physical public shows, and that the HKTDC is preparing to stage more such exhibitions to give a further boost to the recovery. These include the HKTDC Hong Kong International Jewellery Show and HKTDC Hong Kong International Diamond, Gem & Pearl Show, which will run from 25 to 29 July, as well as the HKTDC Food Expo, HKTDC Hong Kong International Tea Fair, Beauty & Wellness Expo, HKTDC Home Delights Expo and HKTDC Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair (Special Edition), which will run from 12 to 16 August.
More than 250 cultural events were held on-site during the fair period, including the Theme of the Year: “Inspiring the Mind and Refreshing the Soul” Seminar Series, the Renowned Writers Seminar Series, and seminars under the theme English and International Reading. More than 600 events have been held to date in connection with the Book Fair, including activities under the month-long Cultural July citywide campaign, drawing more than 310,000 attendees. Five seminars under the Renowned Writers banner were streamed live online and attracted more than 130,000 views, enabling booklovers outside Hong Kong to participate virtually.
Buyers splash out
An on-site survey undertaken during the Book Fair found that each visitor spent an average of HK$817 (US$105) at the Book Fair, representing 65% of their overall annual spending on books (HK$1,262). The study of more than 800 visitors was conducted by an independent market research agency.
“The survey results highlight the fact that the Book Fair remains a major book-purchasing platform for the public,” said the HKTDC in a media release.
Most respondents said they were drawn to the event by the prospect of new releases (82%), followed by discounted items (40%), children’s books (17%) and diverse cultural activities (17%).
The survey also revealed more about visitors’ reading habits and preferences, with about 98% of respondents saying they had read printed books in the past month, spending an average of 20 hours reading. The most popular genres were fiction (58%), literature (38%), comics (26%), self-improvement (22%) and travel (18%), with other popular genres including language study, social science, and arts and music. The survey also found more than 70% of respondents had read e-books in the past month, spending an average of 15 hours reading.
Readers can revisit recordings from about 100 selected seminars through the fair website or via the HKTDC’s online video channels. The Cultural July citywide campaign continues until the end of this month with a broad range of activities including arts and cultural tours, exhibitions and seminars.
Sports, snacks draw interest
The concurrent Hong Kong Sports and Leisure Expo and World of Snacks showcased a broad selection of sports and leisure products and services along with tasty treats from across the globe. On-site events organised by the HKTDC, as well as various trials and interactive experiences offered by exhibitors, were enthusiastically received.
The debut World of Snacks offered a brand-new experience to visitors and helped to create a vibrant atmosphere at the fairground.