Spanish Week 2023: Hong Kong Embraces the Spirit of Spain

From Tapas to Dim Sum: Hong Kong Embraces the Vibrant Spirit of Spain

Reinforcing their longstanding bilateral alliance, Hong Kong and Spain kicked off the month of October with a bevy of exhilarating activities to celebrate all things Spanish. This year sees a marked return of full-blown, in-person activities coinciding with National Day, or Día de la Hispanidad, an annual holiday that spotlights Spain’s deep history and culture and recognises its strong ties with the international community.

While Spaniards only make up a relatively small fraction of Hong Kong’s international population, it’s not hard to find traits shared with the European country that are deeply ingrained in the local way of life, such as their common love of eating food in bite-sized portions like tapas and dim sums, as well as dried meat.

Beyond gastronomy, Spain’s allure remains evident in Hong Kong, a city that may be small geographically but heavy in traditions-led celebrations.

“It's hard to just pinpoint one thing about Spain that is interesting, but I think a lot of people are attracted to it because of the weather, food, beaches, and the beauty of the country itself,” says Xenia Vives, General Manager at the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.

Xenia first came to Hong Kong in 2008 to pursue her bachelor’s degree at the City University of Hong Kong and worked here for a few years before returning to Spain. After nearly a decade, she found another opportunity to call Hong Kong her second home when she was appointed as the Spanish Chamber’s general manager last March. In her role, Xenia helps propel the organization’s growth through innovative marketing strategies that cater to over 170 partners and 5,500 contacts on their database.

Spanish Chamber of Commerce
Photo by Facebook/Spanish Chamber of Commerce

At its core, the Chamber helps strengthen economic and commercial ties with Hong Kong, a strong trade ally in the region. As of 2019, Hong Kong was the third largest destination in Asia for Spanish investors and the fifth largest Asian investor in Spain. Meanwhile, Spain was Hong Kong’s sixth largest trading partner in the EU in 2021, according to data from the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. Cementing this partnership, the Chamber facilitates business support and advisory services, networking and community building, and advocacy and representation to support its members.

“One of the many ways we assist our partners is through our direct line with InvestHK, a government body responsible for bringing investment from abroad to Hong Kong. For example, we recently held a CXO breakfast session with InvestHK, where we tackled the main problems [faced by] high executives, and their business outlook.”

They also host events year-round such as workshops, forums, and networking opportunities, as well as provide assistance to members that are eyeing expansion to China.

Spanish Chamber of Commerce La Feria 2019
"La Feria" Celebrations for Spanish Week in Hong Kong in 2019; Photo by Facebook/La Feria Spanish Fair Hong Kong

For Spanish month, the Chamber partnered with various organizations to spotlight Spain through food, dance, music, and sports. From Oct. 9 to 22, The Beat Asia orchestrated a collaboration with the Chamber through Spanish Week Hong Kong 2023, a gastronomic spectacle featuring premier Spanish restaurants in the city. Through exclusive set menu offerings, attendees are treated to an array of authentic Spanish flavours from 10 participating establishments.

Spanish Chamber of Commerce
Xenia Vives, General Manager at the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong; Photo by Facebook/Spanish Chamber of Commerce

Spanish restaurant La Paloma, with support from the Chamber, also lined up a three-day fest called La Fiesta, championing the European country’s culture through activities like flamenco dance performances, children’s workshops, a football booth, and a virtual dragon race competition, all whilst serving tapas and wines. To be held from Oct. 13-15 at PMQ in Central, La Fiesta returns after a four-year pause to import the flavours, aromas, and rich traditions of Spain straight to the heart of Hong Kong.

Next month, the Chamber is set to mount its banner event for the year—the Annual Gala Dinner. This event gathers influential individuals from the business, cultural, and diplomatic sectors, allowing attendees to forge meaningful connections and explore potential collaborations while immersing themselves in Spanish cuisine and art.

“Spain has this advantage of being a bridge between cultures. It has a sisterhood with Europe because it belongs to Europe. But it also has a sisterhood with South America because of history and language. So, it’s really a great opportunity when we get to collaborate with other nations in showcasing our rich culture,” Xenia adds.

To know more about the Spanish Chamber’s initiatives, please visit their website.

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