China and Hong Kong’s MICE recovery not to be underestimated: stakeholders

The number of Chinese exhibitors attending THAIFEX – Anuga Asia 2023 has already surpassed 2019 levels; a previous edition of THAIFEX pictured

Although Greater China and Hong Kong were slower in reopening their borders to trade, business events recovery is expected to be quick, say industry players at the UFI Asia-Pacific Conference 2023 in Kuala Lumpur earlier this month.

This view is supported by the IMF – World Economic Outlook 2022, which projected that China would see real GDP growth of 5.1 per cent this year, while it forecasted Asia and the Pacific would see a slightly lower real GDP growth of 4.9 per cent.

The number of Chinese exhibitors attending THAIFEX – Anuga Asia 2023 has already surpassed 2019 levels; a previous edition of THAIFEX pictured

Over in Hong Kong, three flagship international events – Jewellery & Gem Asia, Jewellery & Gem World, Asia Food Logistica – that left Hong Kong during the pandemic have returned.

This year, Hong Kong is set to host more than 100 international business events, shared Justine Ng, senior manager, business development, MICE at Hong Kong Tourism Board.

To help with the industry’s recovery, the Hong Kong Tourism Board launched its Hello Hong Kong campaign earlier in February. These developments signal Hong Kong’s readiness for international business events once more.

To attract more international conferences and exhibitions to Hong Kong, a new US$178 million (US$22.7 million) scheme will be rolled out by the Hong Kong SAR government in the coming months.

For recurring exhibitions organised at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and AsiaWorld-Expo, organisers can benefit from a three-year scheme starting from July 1, 2023, to June 30, 2026. These exhibitions will receive an incentive equivalent to 100 per cent of the venue rental.

Ng shared: “We understand recovery takes time and these efforts are to support the full resumption of the business events industry.”

AsiaWorld Expo, chief strategy officer, Enid Low, shared that the venue has over 200 confirmed events to date for 2023, and she expects the venue to achieve 2019 levels next year. On February 16, welcomed a technology conference from China with 3,000 delegates.

Over in China, Diane Chen, general manager of Shenyang New World Expo, shared that there were many exhibitions and conferences pencilled in on the venue’s calendar this year, where a majority are from the domestic Chinese market, including two large conferences with 10,000 delegates each.

Although the domestic market seems to be recovering strongly for Shenyang New World Expo, Chen shared there was a 20 per cent reduction in exhibition space compared to previous years. However, she expressed confidence that the market will fully recover by 2024.

An exhibition organiser based in Shanghai, Guoping Wang, CEO of Huamo Exhibition Co, shared that his machinery tools exhibition in Guangdong Province surpassed pre-pandemic attendance of 50,000. His company’s recent show in February attracted 80,000 visitors.

He noted: “We run four types of exhibitions, furniture, construction materials, food and machinery tools, and I don’t foresee any challenges. International exhibitors will return to China as this is where the market is.”

Chinese stakeholders have also started travelling overseas in larger numbers as exhibitors and visitors to exhibition events in South-east Asia.

Mathias Kuepper, managing director & vice president Asia-Pacific at Koelnmesse, shared that Chinese exhibitors are obtaining funding from their local governments to exhibit overseas.

For instance, at the upcoming Koelnmesse-organised THAIFEX – Anuga Asia F&B tradeshow in Bangkok this May, the number of Chinese exhibitors has already surpassed 2019 levels.

At another Koelnmesse-organised B2B show for children and baby products in Bangkok, Kind + Jugend ASEAN, Kuepper shared that Chinese exhibitors are the largest number of international exhibitors.

Similarly, over in Indonesia, Daswar Marpaung, president director of Dyandra & Co based in Jakarta, shared that the recent International Indonesia Motor Show (February 16-26, 2023), attracted many Chinese motor brands.

He said: “They brought innovation to the show by showcasing their latest electric vehicles. Indonesia is a huge market for them.”

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