Diversity and growth
While Asia is by no means a homogenous region, there are several business and economic trends common to a number of Asian markets, which make it an exciting place to do business and find commercial opportunities, particularly in exhibitions.
Countries such as China, India and Vietnam are growing at a much higher rate than the rest of the world as their economies develop and mature, with China’s GDP growth hitting 6.9% and India’s nearly 6.7% in 2017 according to the World Bank, compared with 3.1% globally.
Asia is also home to three of the five most populous countries in the world, creating large consumer markets for businesses to target. According to IATA’s 2018 data, Asia-Pacific recorded the largest year-on-year increase in international aviation traffic of any region, and India’s domestic market for air travel posted the highest annual growth rate of any country, with an 18.6% increase in demand.
When it comes to exhibitions, one of the great strengths of Asia is its appetite and level of national support for business, commerce and innovation.
In industries like Manufacturing, Automotive and Technology, Asia is increasingly taking a leading position in the global supply chain, and this creates huge demand from businesses to connect with national and international customers, something exhibition platforms provide at scale.
This alignment is reflected in the rapid expansion of the exhibitions industry in the region.
China became the world’s second largest exhibitions market in 2015 and was valued at $2.7bn in 2017, growing at 11%. Part of this growth is thanks to the construction of new venues in tier two cities as well as expansion of existing venues in the country’s largest hubs. In late 2019, the Shenzhen World Exhibition & Convention Center is slated to open, which will ultimately offer over 500,000 sq. m of exhibition space, the largest single exhibitions venue in the world.
This commitment to exhibitions as a source of international investment is a trend being mirrored in other countries across Asia.
For example, both Thailand and Indonesia have formed a national Convention and Exhibition Bureau, specifically to provide active support for the exhibitions market.
In a region as large and diverse as Asia, there is not a one-size-fits-all model for a successful exhibitions operating approach but there are common factors that are important. Local relationships are critical, as individual markets have their way of doing things, from dealing with local authorities and trade associations, to collaborating with partners and managing suppliers. Having a strong and recognised brand also helps, as trust and reputation are key.