Taylor Swift performs at the Monumental stadium during her Eras Tour concert in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Novemner 9. Photo: AP
Francis Neoton Cheung
Francis Neoton Cheung

Make sure Taylor Swift doesn’t skip Hong Kong again

  • Hosting large-scale international events is a powerful statement that Hong Kong is back as a global player after three years of pandemic isolation
  • Now that the city is reclaiming its place on the world stage, the government and business sector must cooperate to form long-term strategies and lift the city’s allure
Last week, the Avenue of Stars – Hong Kong’s answer to the Hollywood Walk of Fame – transformed into a playful runway as luxury brand Louis Vuitton launched its pre-fall menswear line against one of the world’s most iconic skylines. The dramatic choice of location not only signalled the importance of the Hong Kong and Asian markets to the fashion house but also reaffirmed the city’s standing as an international arts and culture hub.
The stunning catwalk was the latest in a string of high-profile cultural and business events that took place in the city in recent weeks. The popular Clockenflap music festival returned to its regular winter slot at the Central Harbourfront over the weekend. This followed the Global Financial Leaders’ Investment Summit and Hong Kong FinTech Week in November. We have also seen trade events such as the Christie’s Hong Kong auction and the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show.

The hosting of large-scale international events is a powerful statement that Hong Kong is back as an international player after three years of pandemic isolation. It also provides an opportunity to think ambitiously about Hong Kong’s long-term cultural aspirations.

In the 2022 policy address, the government launched a Mega Arts and Cultural Events Fund as it sought to bring major events back and re-establish Hong Kong as the region’s premier travel destination.


What to look out for at first Art Basel in Hong Kong since city lifted Covid restrictions

What to look out for at first Art Basel in Hong Kong since city lifted Covid restrictions
The fund has since supported a range of popular arts and culture events such as Art Basel Hong Kong, Freespace Jazz Fest at the West Kowloon Cultural District and the “Botticelli to Van Gogh: Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London” exhibition at the Palace Museum.
To consolidate Hong Kong’s status as a premier events capital, investment and strategic planning are crucial. This vision extends beyond the current government’s term, requiring collaboration between officials and cultural leaders to formulate a comprehensive long-term strategy that not only focuses on staging mega events but also provides development opportunities for the arts, culture and creative sectors.

Capacity-building across these sectors is vital if Hong Kong is to become a thriving hub of East-West cultural exchange, as envisioned in China’s 14th five-year plan. This is a perfect, unmissable opportunity for the government to think boldly about Hong Kong’s position as a cultural capital in relation to other top cities in the region and beyond, even a decade or two into the future.

Chinese actor Wang Hedi poses for photographs before the Louis Vuitton men’s pre-fall fashion show in Hong Kong on November 30. Photo: AP
The business sector should also support the cause by tapping deep into its international connections and resources. New World Development CEO Adrian Cheng Chi-kong reportedly helped bring the Louis Vuitton show to Hong Kong. Other business leaders should follow his example and raise the bar even higher.
In the immediate term, and more practically, the staging of word-class events is a useful way to improve the global perception of Hong Kong as negative views of the city persist overseas. It is regrettable that some countries have placed travel warnings on Hong Kong in recent years. This is despite the return of calm and peace to our streets for some time after the 2019 unrest and the city’s low crime rates.
Hong Kong might well have slipped behind regional rivals such as Singapore in terms of blockbuster events on the business and cultural calendar during the Covid-19 pandemic. Now that the city is gradually reclaiming its status as an international events hub, it should push further by making it even more attractive for foreign artists and athletes to pick Hong Kong as the stage to showcase their talents. This is important if Hong Kong is to avoid being passed over again for concerts by global superstars such as Taylor Swift.

With the expected completion of the Kai Tak Sports Park next year, the authorities should prioritise making entry visas more convenient for concert crews and streamline customs clearance for show equipment.

The recent wave of high-profile events in Hong Kong highlights the city’s comeback as an international player. To secure its status, the government must invest in long-term strategies, foster cultural development and collaborate with business and cultural leaders to elevate Hong Kong’s position as a premier events capital.

Francis Neoton Cheung is the convenor of Doctoral Exchange, a public policy research collective, and a former member of the Land and Building Advisory Committee. He is a member of the Chief Executive’s Policy Unit Expert Group