UFI: Asia-Pacific’s exhibition industry growth is unparalleled

Trade fair industry in Asia looks well-positioned for continued growth

UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, released the 15th edition of the Trade Fair Industry in Asia annual report, which provides complete data on the development of trade fairs and supporting facilities in these regions up to December 31, 2018, with additional figures and commentary on likely trends for the following year.

One key finding is that net space sold at Asian trade fairs reached 23.4 million square metres, which represents an average growth rate of 4.8% across 17 Asian trade fair markets.

Trade fair industry in Asia looks well-positioned for continued growth

Research shows that 23.4 million square metres of space was sold by exhibition organisers to their clients in Asia in 2018 – up from 22.3 million square metres in 2017. More than half of the total (59%) was sold in China – totalling 13.7 million square metres in net space, which is well over six times the space sold in Asia’s second-largest trade fair market, Japan (2.15 million square metres).

By the end of 2019, venue capacity in Asia will be over 9.6 million square metres, and the number of purpose-built exhibition venues operating in Asia will reach 232. The region’s total venue capacity will increase significantly following the opening of a new mega venue in Shenzhen (China), adding 400,000m2 of gross indoor capacity to the regional total.

China, Asia’s largest market, exceeded the regional average as it grew by 5.5% in 2018, adding approximately 700,000m2 of space, and totalling 13.73 million square metres. However, this was notably lower than the 8% recorded in 2017. Several large markets reported less significant growth last year. Net space sold in Thailand increased by 3.8% in 2018; Australia and South Korea both expanded by 3%; while the market in Taiwan grew by just under 2%.

Cambodia was the fastest-growing trade fair market in the region in 2018 as space sold jumped by over 40%. Once again, India was the fastest-growing large market as net space sold jumped by 10%, rising from 1.18 million square metres to 1.3 million square metres.

Other South-east Asian markets that outperformed the regional average included Malaysia (7.7%), Vietnam (6.4%) and Singapore (5.4%). Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia posted growth lower than the regional average in 2018.

At the low end of the table, growth in Japan slowed to 1.2% in 2018, down from 2.9% in the previous year, while space-constrained Hong Kong recorded growth of just 1.1%, the lowest in the region.

UFI Asia/Pacific regional manager and Business Strategies Group (BSG) managing director, Mark Cochrane, stated: “Growth in the Asian trade fair industry eased to 4.8% in 2018, down from the robust 7.0% recorded in 2017. Once again, India was a particularly strong performer in 2018, with net space sold increasing by 10.0% to 1.3 million square metres. China, the region’s largest trade fair market, remained strong with growth of 5.5% in 2018.

“There are some clear macro-economic challenges ahead in 2019, but the trade fair industry in Asia looks well-positioned to continue to grow.”

The research was undertaken for UFI, The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, by BSG in Hong Kong, and the report covered 17 locales including Greater China and South-east Asian markets, Australia, Cambodia, Japan, South Korea, India, Myanmar and Pakistan.

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