Hong Kong's position as the premier destination in Asia for top expatriate managers is under threat due to poor air quality, according to recent research from leading workplace solutions provider Regus. The survey of over 220 business leaders in Hong Kong found that an overwhelming three out of four companies (75 percent) believe that the air quality in a city affects company's ability to attract and retain international talent.
When asked to rank a number of Asian cities in order of the air quality, respondents placed Hong Kong well below Singapore. Hong Kong was closely followed by Bangkok, with Shanghai and Beijing judged to have the poorest air quality.
City Average Ranking (out of 5)
1. Singapore 1.66
2. Hong Kong 3.16
3. Bangkok 3.30
4. Shanghai 3.60
5. Beijing 4.14
"Hong Kong has long grappled with air quality issues, and our latest research indicates that a great majority of companies are finding the environment a major issue when it comes to attracting the best employees," remarks Hans Leijten, Regus' Regional Vice President, East Asia. "Singapore is challenging Hong Kong's position as Asia's most attractive location for international business leaders, and this is reflected in the findings of our survey."
"These findings will probably come as no surprise for most Hong Kong people," says Linda Ho, Chief Executive Officer of the Green Council. "This will affect whether businesspeople and other visitors wish to come here. However, I do not believe that the situation is irreversible. If anything, these findings highlight the urgent need for practical, effective steps from the government to tackle the air pollution problem."
"In December 2010, a study by Civic Exchange found that one in four residents, and 40 percent of people at a managerial level have considered leaving Hong Kong due to the poor environment here. Unless the Hong Kong government takes radical action to tackle our air quality problems, we risk falling further behind Singapore and other leading global business destinations," adds Joanne Ooi, Chief Executive Officer of Hong Kong Clean Air Network.
Despite the long-term threat posed by air pollution, business is booming in all of the cities in the survey. Regus will open at least nine new facilities in the five surveyed cities in 2011.
"It is true that all five of these Asian cities are still attractive business destinations with increasing level of economic growth, despite their varying track records when it comes to the environment," notes Leitjen. "However, to ensure continued long term prospects for their cities, the relevant authorities would be wise to prioritise their environment in order to shore up their competitive advantage, and in particular to face up to the challenges of poor air quality. The time to act is now."
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