Bureau woos exhibition organisers
The Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) is making a herculean effort to put Thailand on the regional map as a trade exhibition hub for the long haul by approaching more major global exhibition organisers about setting up an office here.A permanent presence here will ensure that trade exhibitions would continue to be held throughout the year. More importantly, the organisers will use their new office to look for opportunities in neighbouring nations, especially Vietnam, Indonesia and Myanmar, which are growth markets for this kind of business.
Supawan Teerarat, exhibition director for the TCEB, said this market is very competitive and key nations in Asia are emerging to share the bigger cake. Allowing foreign organisers only to plan trade shows is not the way to create industry sustainability, so the bureau is convincing more companies from Britain to start operating here.
Foreign exhibition companies from Europe that are already here include Reed Exhibition, UBM Asia, Allworlds Exhibitions and DMG.
The competitive advantages of the country are its strong infrastructure, especially venues for events, flight connectivity and skilled human resources. Industries such as agriculture, automobile parts, jewellery, energy and construction are also emerging to create new opportunities for shows.
Dutch company VNU Exhibitions is a good example. It formed a 49:51 joint venture last year with TCC Land, a subsidiary of whisky tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanaphakdi, called VNU Exhibitions Asia-Pacific Co. It uses the new company as its base to play a greater role in the region.
VNU specialises in trades involving basic human needs, such as agriculture, food and healthcare. In Thailand, the company has six shows scheduled this year.
Gerard Leeuwenburgh, managing director of VNU Exhibitions Asia-Pacific, said Thailand is regionally considered as a key focus for the MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) market. Especially Bangkok, which is a major foreign tourist destination. Compared to Indonesia for example, exhibitions here serve not only Thailand but also the region, while the purpose in Indonesia is more specifically for its domestic market.
Ton Otten, from VNU's Exhibitions Europe, said Asia is a fast-growing economic region. Southeast Asia and China are the key markets of the company at present. The company has formal offices in Bangkok and Shanghai. Forming a joint venture with local partners is a way to reach the local market.
Thailand is in a strong position, especially as a leisure destination, in this exhibition field, but some areas need improvement. Bangkok, for example, as the capital should expose its cultural side more to sharpen its identity.
Asia and Europe contribute evenly to sales at present, but over the next 10 years sales from Asia will rise to 70 per cent.
Asia was chosen over fast-growing South America because Asia provides a better business platform, especially regarding economic stability and transparency. It also has China as a big market to spur growth, he added.