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January 25, 2024

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Charting a course to becoming a worldwide exhibition hub

Back in 2016, when I was a project director in Düsseldorf, Germany, I traveled to Shanghai frequently for business. I stayed in a hotel for a few days and loved exploring local cuisine with coworkers.

On every trip, I would take home souvenirs for my family. Given Shanghai’s rich cultural and tourist offerings, I would occasionally prolong my stay to explore the city on my own.

International visitors are more likely to seek out and invest in local experiences, as well as spend more money on lodging, dining and leisure activities. The indirect profits spent by overseas participants are therefore likely to be higher.

For Shanghai, increasing the number of foreign attendees at their exhibitions benefits not just the trade fair but also the city’s numerous sectors, ranging from hospitality to tourism.

Trade fairs encourage innovation in industries, while industries drive economic development. They provide not just business opportunities but also benefit the host city and country.

Düsseldorf, which has a population of over 600,000, conducts over 40 trade fairs each year, with more than 80 percent of participants coming from other countries. This high foreign participation rate has a significant socioeconomic impact on the city.

According to the German Institute for Economic Research, trade fairs and conferences in Düsseldorf create approximately 1.66 billion euros (US$1.8 billion) in annual revenue for the local economy, primarily in the hotel, catering and craft industries.

They contribute to the creation of more than 16,000 job possibilities and approximately 1.5 million overnight stays in Düsseldorf, accounting for one-third of total hotel bookings.

The travel-related activities of visitors, logistics and event technology companies involved in trade shows, and hotel stays in nearby towns all have a greater impact on the German economy.

The Düsseldorf trade fairs and conventions generate a total revenue of 2,98 billion euros and nearly 28.000 job possibilities throughout Germany.

Consider what that would entail for Shanghai in terms of turnover, jobs and hospitality. The indirect profitability is enormous.

You may wonder what indirect profitability is.

Trade fairs

Every euro from trade fairs multiplies locally and nationally. If Düsseldorf trade fairs generate 1,000 euros annually (of course they generate much more), the ripple effect generates 6,700 euros for the city and Germany. The indirect profitability ratio is 1:6.7.

Shanghai’s trade exhibitions are much more promising. The 2019 Shanghai Pudong Trade Fair Annual Report estimates their indirect profitability ratio at 1:9.

Shanghai’s trade fairs have an average foreign participation rate of 20 percent, offering tremendous growth potential.

This exciting prospect of increased socioeconomic impact shows the city’s ability to expand its global reach and influence in the exhibition industry.

As Shanghai develops, recruiting a more diversified foreign audience will boost economic and cultural activity. The international visitors’ experiences underscore Shanghai’s potential at Asian exhibitions.

How does Shanghai differ from Singapore and Hong Kong, which are Asia’s top exhibition centers, due to their robust infrastructure and global connectivity?

Let’s start with Shanghai’s strategic location first. The city is a hub of international trade and culture. This strategic positioning, world-class amenities, and vibrant urban environment distinguish the city.

Shanghai’s competitiveness stems not only from its physical infrastructure but also from its dynamic location within China’s booming economy.

Chinese cities like Shanghai and Shenzhen represent the country’s rapid growth and influence in global trade and innovation. While its existing exhibition landscape is laudable, Shanghai’s actual potential rests in exploiting its unique position in China and Asia to attract a more diversified international audience and build a deeper, more internationally integrated exhibition experience.

These factors have made Shanghai a major exposition city due to its accessibility, modern infrastructure, and large venues like the Shanghai New International Expo Center in Pudong. International exhibitors and visitors are drawn to Shanghai’s modern airports, diverse cuisine and hospitality industry.

Shanghai is now recognized as one of the world’s prominent cities in terms of standard of living.

Hosting world-class events helps a city become a global exhibition hub. We in Düsseldorf have the expertise to organize around 20 world-class exhibitions annually.

What is the definition of a world-leading show? It’s not just about the numbers, such as exhibition area and exhibitors, but also ground-breaking breakthroughs and technological debuts. The standard is high for world-leading trade fairs in Düsseldorf, where manufacturers and companies from diverse industries often reserve their global launches until the exhibition date.

Addressing Shanghai’s current shortcomings requires not just improving the exhibition infrastructure but also developing a more compelling value proposition that appeals to foreign exhibitors. This approach will give them the confidence and motivation to choose Shanghai as a top stage for their worldwide product debuts and big announcements, increasing the city’s standing in the global exhibition sector.

Policies supporting Shanghai as a global exhibition hub have also been noted.

Entry is free for six European nations, and also Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, which will give a boost to the economy.

Our international exhibitors and visitors should increase this year. Shanghai touts its status as a worldwide exhibition hub. The city can enter a new period of riches and global influence. Shanghai needs this consistent determination to become a global exhibition hub and achieve success.


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