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The Business Meetings Market in Asia Pacific (Excerpt from my recently published report)


The Business Meetings business is extremely important to the regional economy and there are exhibition hubs all over the region, including several in the area known as Greater China (meaning China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan). This importance is reflected in the level of interest and encouragement – including financial support - offered to event organisers by some governments through their tourism boards and convention bureaux. There are significant public-private marketing partnerships promoting Business Meetings in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, where general tourism has been slow to take off. With an eye to developments in Macau, Singapore further countered its stodgy reputation by pragmatically modifying its strict anti-gambling laws in order to permit the creation of 2 large casino-based properties. In the more buoyant tourism destinations of Hong Kong, Bangkok and the so-called ‘Tier 1’ cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen in China, there is non-financial support from government. Meanwhile, markets such as Manila, Mumbai and Jakarta still face significant infrastructure and mindset challenges in order to be competitive in the global exhibitions marketplace.

Singapore – English language-dominated Singapore has successfully branded itself as the western world's route to Asia. Safe, reliable, possessing superb infrastructure and with enthusiastic leadership by Singapore Tourism Board, the city state is the clear leader of the regional Business Meetings industry. There are currently 4 outstanding exhibition venues, including 2 casinos, competing vigorously for exhibitions and other MICE business: Suntec (recently refurbished and re-opened); Singapore Expo; Resorts World Sentosa (with casino); Marina Bay Sands (with casino).

Hong Kong – while Hong Kong's main strength nowadays is its 'gateway to China' and although English is diminishing in Hong Kong compared with Mandarin and Cantonese, there are still large exhibitions and conferences in Hong Kong that are conducted mostly or completely in English. However, Hong Kong Tourism Board has been quite inconsistent in its support of the Business Meetings sector. Nevertheless, HKCEC regularly wins awards as the region’s best and most convenient convention centre.

Macau – there has been a massive development of Las Vegas-style casinos with event spaces, of which the most significant for the conventions and exhibitions business continues to be the Venetian-Macao. While hugely benefiting from the resultant astronomic increase in tourist numbers and tax revenues, the Macau government struggles between a desire to attract ever more tourism – especially from Mainland China – and a distaste for many aspects of the casino business.

 

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