‘No decision’ yet on whether Hong Kong will go to Zurich

“No decision has been made” yet on whether the Hong Kong delegation of the international Basel watch and jewelry show will agree to move to Zurich in 2003, says a spokesperson for the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC).

“Because exhibitors have until later this summer to register [for Basel 2003] we don’t yet have any registrations, so we can’t say yet we’re going,” JCK was told on June 24 by Elke Brockmann, corporate communications manager for the HKTDC’s Central and Eastern European office. “There are a lot of talks and discussions going on right now between the HKTDC and the [seven] Hong Kong associations [in the delegation] and with the Basel Fair management.”

The HKTDC European office, located in Frankfurt, Germany, organizes the Hong Kong pavilion at the annual global trade show.

Lore Buscher, HKTDC’s regional director for Central and Eastern Europe, has said her office will assist Hong Kong companies who join the Zurich pavilion and also will seek ways to attract visitors to the Hong Kong pavilion after the relocation, such as a stepped-up publicity campaign.

With 325 exhibitors, Hong Kong is one of the largest foreign delegations in the annual international trade show in Basel, Switzerland.

Basel 2003 and Hong Kong’s participation also is on the agenda of this week’s annual meeting in Hong Kong of HKTDC directors from around the world.

According to officials of the HKTDC and the participating Hong Kong associations, there are two big issues that must be resolved if Hong Kong is to go to Zurich: marketing support by Basel and buyer attendance.

“Our Hong Kong people want the Basel Fair authority to confirm it will do a big marketing campaign to support us and will do a lot to get buyers to come to Zurich,” Brockmann told JCK. “That’s everyone’s concern. That’s what the Basel Fair really must do.”

Basel 2003, scheduled for April 3-10, will mark the first time the show will be held in both Basel and Zurich. The Basel Fair management has said for almost two years that the global show has run out of exhibition space. To remedy the problem, foreign delegations—representing almost a third of the show’s 2,000 exhibitors—will be moved to a new exhibition hall in Zurich that is owned by the Basel Fair’s parent firm. Individual watch and jewelry brands, plus support industries’ vendors, will stay in Basel. The Basel and Zurich segments will run concurrently, for the same number of hours and days.

Many foreign vendors, including those from Hong Kong, have said they don’t want to be relocated to Zurich. Despite the promise of show-provided shuttles for the hour-long trip to and from Zurich, they fear they’ll have far fewer buyers and much less business. On June 3, delegations from reportedly up to 14 countries tentatively agreed to start their own show—=probably in Lausanne, Switzerland—if the Basel Fair insists on sending them to Zurich. They contend there is still space for them at the Basel show site, now that plans for a casino in one of the Fair’s buildings have been turned down by the Swiss government.

The U.S. delegation, organized by the Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America (MJSA), has already said it won’t go to Zurich, as reported by JCK on June 10.

Booked. In related news, René Kamm, MCH Swiss Exhibition’s general manager of global exhibitions, said in an interview in the June issue of The Basel Magazine that a third of the space in Zurich was already booked by members of various national pavilions.

As an inducement to relocate, he told the magazine, the basic price for space in Zurich is 10% less than the cost of space in Basel’s halls. In addition, exhibitors booking space before Aug. 1 will get another 10% discount, making space in Zurich 20% less expensive than in Basel.