Expo sector back in biz after pandemic hiatus

By SHI JING in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2023-09-26 09:17
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An aerial view of the National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai) in November 2021. [PHOTO/XINHUA]

Likewise, Shenzhen, Guangdong province, is expected to hold 189 exhibitions this year, up 3.6 times year-on-year, according to the city's commerce bureau. The total exhibition area is expected to top over 8 million sq m, setting a record.

Recovery in the exhibition industry can be seen all over China, said Zhang Guosheng, deputy head of the Department of Trade in Services and Commercial Services at the Ministry of Commerce. Zhang was speaking during the Global Exhibition CEO Shanghai Summit 2023 in late June, an annual industry gathering that began in 2014 and which has also been held up for three years due to COVID-19.

As calculated by the ministry, up to 1,448 exhibitions were held in China in the first five months, up 6.7 times year-on-year and 4.2 percent higher than that in the same period of 2019. The number of large-scale expos, with exhibition areas of over 10,000 sq m, reached 834 in the first five months, up 23.4 percent from four years ago.

David Zhong, president of VNU Exhibitions Asia, said at the summit that strong government support and rising market demand have served as the two major engines driving the recovery of the Chinese exhibition sector so far this year. Larger exhibitions are recovering faster than smaller ones, which can be proved by the frequently refreshed records for participants and exhibition areas, Zhong said.

In late July, the municipal government of Shanghai rolled out a three-year action plan for the city's exhibition sector. Made up of 20 detailed measures, the action plan said that the total annual exhibition area in the city is expected to reach 22 million sq m by 2025, of which 80 percent will be taken up by international shows.

During the China International Fair for Trade in Services held in Beijing in early September, Qu Weixi, head of the China Convention/Exhibition/Event Society, said they will encourage companies to hold more exhibitions in smaller Chinese cities in the second half of the year to discover business opportunities lying in industries with local characteristics. Exhibition organizers will be encouraged to hold fairs overseas to better explore the international market and help Chinese exporters win more orders.

Jochen Witt, president and CEO of trade fair and conference consulting firm JWC, is also positive about the recovery of the Chinese expo sector. "Apart from China's continued economic growth, the country's huge investment in exhibition venues over the past decade, during which available expo area doubled, has laid a solid foundation for sustainable growth in the sector," he said.

The number of signature exhibitions, such as the Canton Fair, the China International Import Expo and the China International Consumer Products Expo, have served as important bridges between the Chinese and international markets, said Zhang of the Ministry of Commerce.

The huge size of the Chinese market is another advantage that the expo sector should better make use of to link production and consumption, and attract resources from all over the world. In this way, the overall quality of trade and investment between China and overseas entities can be further improved, said Zhang.

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