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May 18, 2015

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Health exhibition not what the doctor ordered

ATTENDING the world’s largest healthcare exhibition in the city proved a headache for visitors, with thousands complaining of chaotic organization.

Visitors to the Health Industry Summit 2015 posted reports of getting lost due to poor signposting, queuing for hours for everything from noodles to getting back to the Metro, inadequate parking‚ and even having to share a bed with colleagues because there wasn’t enough nearby accommodation.

The event organized by Reed Sinopharm — a joint venture between event organizer Reed Exhibitions and China’s state-owned pharmaceutical group Sinopharm — opened on Friday at the 1.5-million-square-meter National Exhibition and Convention Center in Qingpu District, which opened last year.

It brought together the China International Medical Equipment Fair, the China Pharmacy Trade Fair and the Pharmaceutical Ingredients, Processing and Packing Machinery Fair.

The show attracted 6,000 exhibitors, including names such as Siemens and Phillips, and organizers predicted a record attendance of 200,000 professional visitors from 140 countries.

The first day alone attracted 100,000 visitors, but thousands of attendees went online to criticize poor organization.

“My terrible experience went beyond words,” posted a Weibo microblog user “Noway Chick,” who complained of no Wi-Fi or phone signal and having to walk three hours in the rain to find a bus.

“It’s lucky that no accident happened in such a chaotic situation,” added the Weibo user.

A temporary parking lot the size of five soccer pitches came in for criticism for poor signposting.

“I spent two and a half hours in the parking lot Friday night because I couldn’t find my own car,” one visitor told Shanghai Television news.

Other visitors complained of overwhelmed catering services.

“I queued for an hour to pay for a bowl of noodles and another hour to get the noodles,” a visitor told STV.

Others said they queued two hours to get back to East Xujing Line 2 Metro station, as gates were closed.

Accommodation also proved a problem. One visitor told STV that he and two colleagues had to squeeze into one bed as all nearby hotels were fully booked.

Exhibitors also voiced frustrations. One, who asked not to be named, told Shanghai Daily that there were too few volunteers and that signs were not clear.

“I walked for an hour to get back to my booth after getting lost,” he said. There was no response to requests for comment from Reed Sinopharm last night.

The venue is expected to handle 400,000 visitors a day. The China International Medical Equipment Fair ends today.


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