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Hong Kong Yacht Show 2020. Maybe.

by Guy Nowell 15 Oct 15:29 UTC 19-22 November 2020
Kara Yeung (HKCYIA) and Andy Treadwell (Verventia Ltd), Hong Kong Yacht Show 2020 © Verventia Ltd

Hong Kong needs a boat show. It is quite anomalous that Hong Kong accommodates more registered ‘pleasure vessels’ (over 10,000) than anywhere else in Asia except Japan, but has no boat show. Even Macau, with 46 registered pleasure vessels, has a boat show (29 October – 01 November 2020). Over the years there have been a number of Hong Kong shows – at the Aberdeen Marina Club, Gold Coast, Marina Cove – but they were in-house events that often seemed to be as much about promoting the venue as they were about laying on a straight-six fully pumped and pimped industry event.

Then along came the Hong Kong Cruise & Yacht Industry Association, who declared that they were going to do things properly. HKCYIA is a strange beast. It is the Hong Kong arm of the China Cruise & Yacht Industry Association, which in turn appears to be a quasi-government entity. Most remarkably, the HKCYIA is listed in Hong Kong as a charity, which seems to be an odd business registration if you are going to be running boat shows.

The Chief Executive of the HKCYIA is Ms Kara Yeung, who announced a couple of years ago that the Association was going to organise the mother of all boat shows. Multiple locations on both sides on the harbour, and a whole string of events that would really put Hong Kong on the map. Or chart. After the PR fluff was over, the reality was a very small event held at China Merchants’ Wharf - which is a manifestly unsuitable venue. Nobody came.

Next year HKCYIA tried to put on a show at Kai Tak Runway Park – the green space at the end of the old Kai Tak runway, and adjacent to Kwun Tong Typhoon Shelter. Sadly, what was touted as an extravaganza involving cruise ships at the substantially under-utilised HK Cruise Terminal (and this was before Covid complications had been invented) and lots of big and glossy boats, turned out to be a very small ‘Invitation Only’ affair to which at least one of our media colleagues had extreme difficulty gaining access.

The (then) infant Hong Kong Boating Industry Association tried to strike up a relationship with the HKCYIA, but got a very frosty reception. As the representative body for the marine leisure industry in Hong Kong, the HKBIA should really be involved in this, but are most emphatically NOT invited to the party. No communication there, thank you.

In April 2019, at the Asia Pacific Superyacht Conference in Singapore, Kara Yeung signed an MOU with Andy Treadwell, Verventia Ltd, to run a boat show in Hong Kong in 2020. Treadwell is well known in Asia as the man behind the Singapore and Thailand Yacht Shows, and is generally reckoned to know what he is doing. “Oh good,” we all thought. “Now something will happen. We’ll have a proper boat show in Hong Kong.” Kara Yeung said, “Yacht shows are important social events within the industry. Partnering with Verventia will undoubtedly build up the International Cruise and Yacht Festival Hong Kong in the international yachting world to a crescendo in the coming years.” For the full gushing comments please go to www.sail-world.com/news/217851/A-new-Hong-Kong-Boat-Show

Since then the news of the Hong Kong Yacht Show has been notable mostly for its complete silence, never mind a crescendo of anything. A number of companies signed up for a 2020 show, but even more preferred to “wait and see.” There has been much speculation as to whether a show was going to take place at all, especially with the complications caused by Covid-19, quarantine regulations, and social distancing restrictions. But most of all, speculation has been stoked by a complete lack of information coming from the HKCYIA. There were going to be 50m barges moored in the typhoon shelter, but they have now evaporated. There was going to be an on-land exhibition area, but that has disappeared. Even Verventia acknowledge that information from their MOU partner has been hard to come by, and we believe them.

Yesterday Sail-World Asia received news from Verventia that the Hong Kong Yacht Show, slated to take place next month, is off. HKCYIA, is appears, are about as transparent as a glass of milk. Said Treadwell, “With just over four weeks remaining until the planned opening of the inaugural Hong Kong Yacht Show, there is unfortunately still a lot of uncertainty about exactly what we would be able to deliver next month.”

The message continues: “With the agreement of the vast majority of our major exhibitors, for whose wholehearted support we are extremely grateful, I am afraid we have had to postpone the show to October 2021.

By that time, we are all confident that these dramatically unpredictable times will be behind us, and we will be able to deliver a truly professional, attractive, entertaining and highly populated boat show, worthy of its name, and a proper representation of our important industry. It is rather late in the day, but unfortunately, we have been given no assurances that we would be able to do that this November.

If you have booked for HKYS 2020, or were considering doing so, or planning to visit, then please contact us on info@hkyachtshow.com if we don’t contact you first. We will explain everything about the next steps and how we are – as in Singapore - rolling over our partnerships to the same event in 2021.

I am extremely sorry about the situation – especially for my hard-working team – but as you will appreciate, it is entirely out of our hands. Thank you once again for your continued support.

But wait, that’s not all. There is also a message from Ms Kara Yeung:

“On behalf of the Hong Kong Cruise & Yacht Industry Association, we would like to inform our esteemed participants of the Hong Kong Yacht Show 2020, that an unfortunate situation related to an email dated 12 October 2020, issued by a third party business associate, is being attended to by our legal advisor in Singapore. We apologize for any misunderstanding or confusion this may have caused.

Hong Kong Cruise & Yacht Industry Association, with the support of the Hong Kong SAR Government, continues to maintain our vision to promote Hong Kong as the Yacht Capital of the Greater Bay Area and Asia. Our mission is to serve and collaborate with all the stakeholders with the same common goals to develop a professional, international and sustainable yacht industry ecosystem in Hong Kong.

We are fully committed to your success by providing the highest level of service quality, professionalism, respect and responsibility. It is our pleasure and honour to work together with you towards the success of the Hong Kong Yacht Show in 19-22 November 2020.”

Take your pick. I shall mark 19 November in my diary, and go down to Kai Tak and see what is happening. If there really is something organised by HKCYIA, they won’t have told anyone.

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