Matthew Miller
Mar 24, 2021

Hong Kong Tourism Board under fire for spending US$1.15 million on two-minute video

A New Year's video showing virtual fireworks came with a very real price tag, an HKTB official revealed in a legislative session Monday.

Hong Kong Tourism Board under fire for spending US$1.15 million on two-minute video

This article, first publish on March 24, was updated on March 25 with a statement the HKTB provided to Campaign Asia-Pacific (see below).

A two-minute video created by the Hong Kong Tourism Board for New Year's Eve cost HK$9 million (US$1.15 million), an official from the HKTB has revealed during a governmental meeting.

The admission took place during a meeting of the Legislative Council’s Panel on Economic Development on Monday (March 22).  

Members of the panel expressed outrage at the cost of the short clip (below), which consists mainly of text messages, such as 'Happy New Year' and 'Good health' superimposed over what appears to be stock footage of past fireworks displays. One panel member called the cost "offensive" and demanded to know who came up with the idea.

Dane Cheng, the executive director of the HKTB, said the money went to not only production but also simulcasting of the clip, and said he believed the effort was important to maintaining Hong Kong’s international profile. Presumably this is because many news outlets around the world show montages of city skylines and fireworks displays as part of their New Year's coverage. Cheng claimed that 110 news organisations used the clip, generating HK$60 million (US$7.72 million) in promotional value.

Campaign Asia-Pacific received the following statement from the HKTB after this article was published:

The Hong Kong New Year Countdown Celebration is an international event which, year after year, attracts worldwide attention and acclaim. To maintain Hong Kong’s profile during the pandemic, we made it clear in all our prior communication with the international media that we had adapted the event to an online format, welcoming the arrival of 2021 with a pre-produced video.

About the cost, the entire event was around HK$9 million which included:

  • Hiring an internationally-recognised designer to create and produce the video;
  • Worldwide promotion;
  • Live and relayed broadcast arrangements for international media outlets.

The event was screened by channels including Dragon Television, Phoenix TV, Channel 8 in Singapore, TBS in South Korea, CNN, and BBC, reaching a global audience of more than 5 million people and achieving an estimated publicity value of HK$60 million.

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