Photo by Joshua Ang on Unsplash.com.
Could this be a sign of what is to come? Informa Markets Jewellery has announced that Jewellery & Gem World (JGW), the world’s largest jewelry show, will be relocating from Hong Kong to Singapore this September. The move, the company stressed in its release, is a one-off special arrangement applicable only in 2022.
The decision to stage JGW Singapore was a strategic move aimed to make the show venue more accessible to international suppliers and buyers clamoring for the in-person show experience, Informa said. It is scheduled to take place September 27 to September 30 at the Singapore EXPO.
“The last two years have been extremely challenging for everybody, and we, as an industry, have been doing our utmost to not only keep businesses running, but moving forward,” said David Bondi, senior vice president of Informa Markets in Asia.
“Industry stakeholders overwhelmingly told us they wanted safe and secure physical fairs that they could participate in, and Informa Markets delivered by successfully hosting enhanced large-scale in-person events in the US, Europe, Middle East and Asia in the last several months, with many more firmly scheduled for 2022 and beyond,” he added.
The Singapore EXPO, site of Informa’s Jewellery & Gem World show.
A STRINGENT COVID REGIME
Long the unquestioned capital of the east Asian jewelry and gemstone market, and the most important gateway into mainland China, Hong Kong’s long-term future has been clouded for some time already, in part because the COVID pandemic, but also because of political pressures, as the Chinese government has worked to scale back the special status the city has enjoyed since the end of British rule in 1987.
The COVID pandemic has been particularly devastating, as the Hong Kong administration, taking a leaf out of the playbook of the central government in Beijing, bucked the dominant global trend of learning to live with the virus, and instead tried to eliminate it. Stringent quarantine rules were enacted, and the number of visitors to the city from abroad plummeted, since few were prepared to subject themselves to the forced isolation in COVID hotels that was required.
For a long while the strategy seemed to be effective, with Hong Kong experiencing considerably lower caseloads than other major world centers. But that ended with the highly infectious Omicron variant. The city has experiencied more than 700,000 cases and 4,000 deaths between late January and March.
Hong Kong saw a massive exodus of its business community during during the first two years of the pandemic, with discouraged to stay because of enforced 21-day quarantine imposed on anyone arriving in the city.
JUMPSTARTING ASIA’S TRADE SHOW BUSINESS
In making its announcement, Informa chose not to dwell on the difficulties being experienced in Hong Kong, but rather on the virtues of Singapore – also an island city inhabited mainly by people of Chinese origin, but located at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula and detached from the Chinese mainland both geographically and politically.
In better days, the opening of the Jewellery & Gem World show in Hong Kong.
“Placing safety and business rebuilding at the heart of its event planning, the group’s jewelry vertical – Informa Markets Jewellery – identified Singapore as the ideal host for its flagship show in 2022,” the company’s stated in its announcement. “The city-state plans to steadily ease travel and social restrictions once the current COVID wave of infections reaches its peak, providing international exhibitors and buyers a viable venue where they can do business face to face, and offering greater flexibility to those who are unable to fly to Hong Kong due to current border restrictions and self-isolation requirements.”
“Even against the background of a pandemic, Singapore has the capacity to securely and efficiently host the world’s most iconic jewelry show,” said Celine Lau, director of Jewellery Fairs at Informa Markets Jewellery.
In Bondi’s opinion, physical shows did not only jumpstart the business events industry since the pandemic took hold, but they they also serve as bellwethers for the sector. “We are confident JGW Singapore will accomplish just that – spark authentic business connections and help drive our industry recovery,” he stated.
Lau was careful to allay concerns that Informa’s decision was a temporary one, and does not represent a vote of no confidence in Hong Kong. “As the longstanding home base of the most important jewelry fair in the world, Hong Kong is almost always mentioned in the same breath as JGW,” he said. “In fact, it has become an annual tradition for thousands of suppliers and buyers to travel to Hong Kong every September.”
“Our community can rest assured that Hong Kong will be ready to deliver the full JGW experience in 2023 when conditions allow for safe and responsible in-person interactions, and international travel restrictions are lifted,” Lau added.