The exhibition production industry said on Tuesday that around 15,000 people risk losing their jobs, as it warned that the city will be stripped of its status as a convention hub if authorities don't step in immediately to help.
The Covid pandemic has brought business for many firms to an abrupt halt for the last 10 months, with large-scale gatherings banned and global travel decimated.
Representatives of the industry said about 150 companies engaged in the construction of backdrops and booths for exhibitions were facing catastrophe, being as many exhibitors are moving their events online.
The group warned that unless the government steps in to help, the SAR could lose talent as well as its status as an exhibition hub. It said the authorities should sponsor fairs for small and medium-sized businesses in various government venues to help the struggling companies.
Ray Chan, who has been working in the industry for more than two decades, told reporters that his company has had almost zero income so far this year as its main work comes from big exhibitions in Hong Kong.
Chan said he will have to give away a lot of construction material in his warehouse and switch to a smaller one as his company can no longer afford the rent. If the situation continues, he may have to sack a lot of staff, he said.
The government had earlier earmarked HK$1.02 billion of funding for the exhibition and convention sector under its pandemic relief measures, but DAB lawmaker Vincent Cheng said most of those in the exhibition production industry were unable to benefit from this.
Cheng said workers could only apply for the subsidy as a reimbursement of expenses incurred during exhibitions. But with no exhibitions being held, no one was able to apply, he said.
The legislator said he hoped the government could adapt quickly to what was a changing situation.