Philippine exhibitions missing opportunities amid mega venue shortage

World Trade Center Metro Manila

Exhibition organisers are missing out on opportunities to expand regular events and mount bigger events in the absence of large-scale venues in the Philippines.

One glaring example is the Philippine Garment Industry & Fabric Expo, which is unable to double its exhibition space to two halls this year as a result of the lack of space at SMX Convention Center Manila.

While World Trade Center Metro Manila is one of the three largest in the country, it pales in comparison to other mega venues overseas

“It limits us because we cannot expand to 100 booths,” the organiser, Marisa Nallana, president of PETCO, told TTGmice. She added that the lack of large-scale venues also pose a problem for foreign event organisers who want to bring big fairs into the country.

Afro-Asian World Events’ owner Angel Ramos Bognot pointed out that as exhibition centres in Manila at this time are already fully booked for the year, the country is missing out on big exhibitions.

Bognot cited an example: “World Trade Center Manila cannot give me a date (for my event) this year (and only accept a 2020 date) because all of their regular exhibitions are already booked (with them).”

In comparison to mega venues overseas, Philippines’ venues are small. Its three largest venues – SMX Manila, World Trade Center Metro Manila and the Philippine International Convention Center – have a combined event space of just 30,000m2.

This pales in comparison to other exhibition venues of formidable sizes built in South-east Asia in recent years, such as the 70,100m2 Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Center; the 68,100m2 Jakarta International Exhibition and Congress Centre; and 48,000m2 Malaysia International Trade & Exhibition Center in Kuala Lumpur.

In addition, upcoming mega venues include the 22,600m2 Kuala Lumpur Convention Center (its 11,000m2 expansion will open later this year); and the 60,000m2 Aichi International Convention Centre to open in September 2019; among others in India, China and Japan.

Acknowledging that events venues are small and “already operating on full capacity”, the Philippine MICE Roadmap launched last year has proposed “the construction of 10 exhibition halls with combined capacities of at least 100,000m2 in the long term”.

Mitch Ballesteros, Ex-Link Events’ CEO, suggested that since events organisers and exhibitors constantly need venues and rentals keep on escalating every year, industry associations could form a new group to help address the issue and come up with an alternative space.

For example, she shared that collectively, the industry can use crowdsourcing as a way to address the lack of venue space, instead of relying too much on developers, and being too comfortable in venues that are part of mixed-used developments.

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