Using Thailand’s Exhibition Industry to Better Realise ASEAN Business Opportunities

Business leaders at the TCEB Exhibition Forum 2011 identify Thailand as the passport to successful exhibitions in ASEAN as the region accelerates towards becoming a single market and production base.

A leading private sector exhibition organizer, business and political leaders told the international exhibition community on 20 January that exhibitions in Thailand and ASEAN are a vital mechanism in the march towards economic growth and integration within ASEAN.

While Europe and the United States are plagued by debt and stagnation, ASEAN offers huge growth potential and is already the fastest growing region in the world, said Mr Arin Jira, a co-chairman of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council. There is an inexorable move towards ASEAN becoming a single market and production base, he said.

Business opportunities are increasingly being facilitated by greater economic and regulatory integration backed by ASEAN’s and Thailand’s ever-improving exhibitions infrastructure.

In a video message to exhibition and business leaders at the Forum, ASEAN Secretary General, Mr Surin Pitsuwan stated that ASEAN was becoming “one integrated competitive marketplace”.

Exhibition Forum

“I hope people wake up and realize ASEAN is moving forward with all its jigsaw pieces in place, whatever industry you are in,” Pitsuwan said. “The [ASEAN] house is being built. Its structure is in place. The roof is being put together….this house is for all of us.”

Mr Jira said that tremendous economic growth in India and China had brought forward ASEAN’s planned integration from 2010 to 2015 in order to keep Southeast Asia highly competitive and sustain prosperity gains.

He said the ASEAN Business Advisory Council had direct access to ASEAN’s political leaders who generally adopted the council’s pro-business recommendations.

Mr Jira cited seven sectors where ASEAN offers huge economic potential: automotive parts, electronics, halal food, tourism, manufacturing and assembly, machinery and metalwork production, and healthcare.

Within that context Mr Jira said that Thailand was well placed to compete in all these sectors, especially if you figure in its advantages. The country is already hailed as the number one preferred venue in the ASEAN exhibition industry, he said. In addition, Thailand is globally recognized as one of the top three convention destinations in Asia.

Furthermore, Mr Jira told the Forum audience that Thailand offers world class venues, a strategic location in the heart of Asia, an exotic culture and exceptional value.

The Private Sector Exhibition Viewpoint
The political and business rhetoric and optimism about Thailand and ASEAN as an exhibition venue, is, to a large extent, justified, said Mr Jime Essink, President and CEO of exhibition organizer UBM Asia which has 800 staff in 17 offices in Asia and one million customers attending its shows each year.

Mr Essink told the Forum that government agencies should not organize subsidized shows that undermine private sector exhibition organizers. He said that state bodies such as TCEB do have an important role to play in offering incentives, extending tax breaks, creating infrastructure and implementing a favourable regulatory environment for exhibition growth across ASEAN.

UBM Asia’s CEO cited Malaysia’s policy of not taxing exhibitions that attract over 500 foreign exhibitors as the kind of incentive that spurs growth.

Mr Essink assessed all ASEAN countries from the standpoint of a private sector exhibition organizer. It was a mixed bag with Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia generally doing well.

Along with Mr Jira, Mr Essink hailed Thailand’s geographical position, physical infrastructure, large domestic market, excellent price-quality ratio and favourable incentives from TCEB.

Mr Essink told the Forum audience at the Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Centre that if Thailand’s current political stability continues and if the Department of Export Promotion would cease organizing shows, Thailand would become an even more compelling venue to hold exhibitions.

Thailand’s Strategic Position is Backed by Specific Promotions
At the macro level, Mr Jira said that ASEAN was a compelling trade and exhibition venue due to “coordinated competition” between ASEAN member states.

Underlining Thailand’s value proposition to exhibition organizers TCEB’s Director of Exhibitions, Ms Supawan Teerarat, showed delegates at the Forum that TCEB is active in key support areas of the exhibition industry. Specifically, TCEB offers subsidies and support to foreign exhibition organizers. According to the exhibition audit firm ‘the Searcher’, so far, key markets; namely ASEAN, China, India, Japan and Korea tend to take advantage. TCEB’s support is typically extended to senior job positions such as company decision makers (CEOs, GMs, Managing Directors) as well as managers in quality control, R&D, and technical engineering functions.

Nearly half of all trade visitors who benefited from TCEB and its incentives exhibited in Thailand in order to search for the latest technologies or gather new information and seek new products.

Support for trade international exhibitions and exhibitors are currently being provided by TCEB through a range of tactical promotions and offers. The objective is to consolidate and enhance Bangkok’s position as the “Exhibition City of ASEAN”.

The tactical promotions include value added offers and campaigns such as Extra Night, Extra Smile, Better the Best, and Be My Guest.

Better the Best Thailand, for example, has targeted six trade shows in order to propel them to world class status and consolidate their ASEAN leadership role. These key shows are in gems, packaging, renewable energy, gift & house ware, machine tools and livestock management.

Mr Akapol Sorasuchart, President of TCEB, told delegates at the Forum that Thailand would consolidate and enhance its position as the most popular ASEAN exhibition venue as the region moved towards meaningful integration by 2015.

“As always, thank you for believing in Thailand,” he said.



Source = Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau
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