HK protests prompt organiser to scrap RISE Conference in 2020 as unrest clouds longer term planning

20-Nov-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

More than five months of anti-government protests in Hong Kong have forced organisers to cancel the RISE Conference scheduled for March 2020 in what is the first event of the new year to be taken off the city’s calendar, suggesting the social unrest is now hurting longer term business planning.

The RISE Conference, a global technology and business conference, joins a long list of programmes that have recently fell victim to heightened security concerns as rising casualties as Hong Kong police battled with radical protestors.

“Our number one priority is the well-being, safety and security of attendees at our events,” the company said in a statement. “Given the uncertainty of the situation by early 2020, and after consulting experts and advisors, we have decided to postpone RISE until March 2021.”

The cancellation comes as another blow to the city’s hotel and tourism industry as social unrest has forced many foreign governments to issue travel alerts on Hong Kong. The city’s economy slipped into a technical recession last quarter, and a majority of accountants expects negative growth to persist in 2020.

Earlier this month, organisers scrapped the Clockenflap event, one of Hong Kong’s biggest music and cultural events, slated for November 22 to 24. MioTech, a fintech company that uses artificial intelligence to help banks on environment, social and governance initiatives, cancelled its event due on November 21, while law firm Dechert aborted a November 21 media event on the outlook for private equity activity and deal flow.

The Hong Kong Trade and Development Council said exhibitions held since October have suffered a 20 per cent drop in visitors, costing about HK$300 million in lost tourism-related revenues.

The RISE Conference is noted as one of the biggest gatherings involving technology start-ups in Hong Kong. This year’s edition attracted 16,000 attendees and more than 500 speakers, with presentations by Elie Seidman, CEO of Tinder, Tony Fernandes, CEO of Air Asia, and Simon Loong, founder of WeLab, among others.


Category: Hong Kong

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