China's Latest Economic Policies Open Up New Growth Opportunities for Chengdu's Exhibition Industry

CHENGDU, China, March 13, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- China's Central Economic Working Conference that had convened at the end of 2014 announced that the country's economy has entered what is being termed in Chinese as the "new normal," signifying that the Chinese economy has shifted gears from the previous high speed to medium-to-high-speed growth. Understanding, adapting to and guiding the new normal will be the modus operandi for China's economic development for the foreseeable future.

With this in mind, the beginning of the year marks a new starting point for the city of Chengdu, which, in turn, opens up a host of new opportunities for Chengdu's conference and exhibition industry. The industry's key players are proactively adjusting to the new normal, by accelerating the necessary transformation of the sector and seeking out new areas of growth while shifting from an extensive model of growth in scale and speed to an intensive model focused on quality and efficiency. The sector expects to contribute to the further enhancement of Chengdu's central and leading role in Western China, the ongoing transformation of the city into a modern international metropolis and fueling of the economy of the surrounding region.

The first choice among China's central and western cities in terms of international exhibition facilities and resources

The implementation of the reforms announced by the central government at the end of 2013 got underway last year. During this first year of implementation, Chengdu successfully hosted a series of events including the 15th Western China International Fair, the 12th Michelin Challenge Bibendum, 2014 International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) & World Expo on Intelligent Robots and Systems, the 90th China Food and Drinks Fair, 2014 Chengdu Creativity and Design Week, the 72nd API China &PHARMPACK&SINOPHEX, the 15th International Furniture Fair Chengdu, the 17th Chengdu International Automotive Exhibition, 2014 China Material Fair, among several other notable events.

According to the Statistics Bureau of Chengdu, the city held 530 exhibitions and events during 2014, including 113 international conferences and 214 exhibitions, of which 49 were international in nature. The aggregate area used for the events totaled 3.25 million square meters, up 8 percent year-on-year with the 49 international events accounting for 1.74 million square meters, up 16 percent year-on-year. Direct revenue generated by the exhibition industry reached 6.95 billion yuan, up 14.9 percent year-on-year while direct revenue from individual events rose to 13 million yuan, up 9 percent year-on-year. Aggregated revenue reached 58.4 billion yuan, up 14.5 percent year-on-year. Added value amounted to 31.1 billion yuan, accounting for 3.1 percent of Chengdu's GDP and 6.1 percent of the added value of the entire service sector.

The data reveals a significant improvement in quality. In recent years, a growing number of major international events have been held in Chengdu. In 2013, the Fortune Global Forum and World Chinese Entrepreneurs Convention convened in Chengdu for the first time. In November 2014, the 12th Michelin Challenge Bibendum was also held here, making Chengdu the first host city for this event in China's central and western regions. Global exhibition giant UBM announced that it had chosen Chengdu to host the 12th World Routes and Airport Cities Asia Pacific 2015, two prestigious international conferences in the global civil aviation sector.

International exhibition organizers are attracted to Chengdu as a result of the continued enhancement of Chengdu's comprehensive strength, the city's growing importance as a center of economic activity within China as well as its dominant position within western China's economy. In 2014, Chengdu's economy maintained its pace of development, with the city's GDP hitting a new high at 1005.66 billion yuan, formally making the city a member of China's "trillion-yuan club." The city also comes at the top of lists for the number of the global top 500 companies, foreign embassies and airlines that have offices there as well as for being considered one of the easiest metropolitan areas to navigate.

New opportunities for Chengdu's exhibition industry under the economic new normal

The Chinese economy is now on a new track. The new normal opens new development opportunities to China's western region with Chengdu being the area that can be expected to derive the most benefit. As the central government continues to reinforce its supportive policies for the region, Chengdu, serving as the hub city for China's opening to the western region, is bound to play an ever more important role in the region's ongoing development. China's "Belt and Road" initiative to better connect Asia and Europe and the construction of transportation facilities and channels to provide improved interconnectivity between modes of transport as well as between East Asia, West Asia, South Asia and Europe will serve to establish a comprehensive and interconnected system. As the main intersection of the "Belt and Road," Chengdu will directly benefit from this key national strategy. The upgrade of Tianfu New Area will provide Chengdu with broader space for development. With the many innovative reforms in progress and the plan to develop five satellite cities, Chengdu will have a more solid industrial base, an opportunity to vastly broaden the local market and multiple opportunities for development across the wider region. The advantages that Chengdu has over other similarly-sized cities constitute a solid foundation that can serve to attract an ever greater number of exhibitors.

The new trends spawned by the economic new normal will also bring about other new opportunities. According to the director of the Chengdu Municipal Bureau of Expositions, one primary feature of the economic new normal is the shift from an extensive model of growth in scale and speed to an intensive model focused on quality and efficiency. This shift in perspective will go a long way in dispelling the longtime obsession with the speed of development, and allow city leaders to abandon the policies that led to reckless growth and refocus the priority towards upgrading and improving the quality and efficiency of exhibitions. This is conducive to the fostering and building of exhibitions and events that have a brand, while laying a solid foundation that will lead to long-term benefits. At the same time, more can be done to attract investors, build brands, train talent, optimize the environment, implement scientific methods for measuring success, all of which will assure the stable and sure-footed long-term development of a strong exhibition economy.

New moves for an exhibition economy

A new normal, a new starting point, a new journey. In the coming year, Chengdu's exhibition industry can look forward to seizing a new round of development opportunities, in line with the central government's program of reforms with a focus on taking a more market-oriented approach, enhance further globalization by attracting more international events and standardizing the procedures, all of which will make Chengdu a destination well known to event organizers worldwide and create a favorable environment for the further development of the city's exhibition industry.

Chengdu Municipal Bureau of Exhibitions director general Mu Tao said, "Under the new normal, the exhibition industry is also undergoing profound changes. We must adapt ourselves to the new normal and seize new opportunities in order to achieve new milestones. As the next step, we will further transform the mode of development, facilitate the transformation of exhibition industry from simply a focus on the quantitative to a focus on qualitative changes, allowing the exhibition economy to play a primary role in boosting the development of the city's and the region's industry and trade." In 2015, Chengdu will host several major exhibition events that will create platforms for boosting trade cooperation and for attracting investment, including Airport Cities Asia Pacific 2015, the 92nd China Food and Drinks Fair, the 6th Asia Pacific International Conference on Natural Gas Vehicles Association & Exhibition, the 3rd World 3D Printing Technology Industry Conference & Exhibition, the 5th International Festival of Intangible Cultural Heritage, China, 2015 China Fashion Fair, 2015 China International Logistics Week and the 10th China-EU Investment, Trade and Sci-tech Cooperation Fair.

In line with the government's latest guidelines, Chengdu's exhibition industry will continue the shift to a market-driven one, with the government entities that habitually hosted events moving that responsibility into the hands of private enterprise. The philosophy of how the industry should be run will move from being one under government leadership to one under government guidance. Government oversight of the city's industries and trade will be consolidated. Last November, the Chengdu Council of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT-Chengdu) (Bureau of Expositions) and Chengdu Exhibition Economics & Development Research Institute jointly issued a directive entitled Rating and Evaluation Principles on Qualifications of Chengdu Exhibition and Display Projects and Enterprises (DB 510100/T 136-2014). As China's second and the central region's first local standard for the exhibition industry, the directive will play a positive role in further regulating the behaviors of the city's exhibition and signage companies, improving their level of service, boosting employment and accelerating the branding and standardization of the companies operating in the sector.

Meanwhile, Chengdu is steadily progressing with the construction of Western China International Exhibition City, a venue complex which will be composed of a major hall linked to multiple auxiliary halls and pavilions. The first phase of the project named is expected to be completed and put into operation by 2016. In addition to the city's other major venue, the 110,000-square meter New International Convention & Exposition Center Chengdu Century City, Chengdu will become the city with the largest exhibition area in western China, able to provide sufficient booth capacity for the sustainable development of the exhibition economy.

Source: China Council For the Promotion of International Trade Chengdu Sub-council