Thailand: Downturn hits exhibitions as firms cut costs
The global economic slowdown has affected the exhibition business in Thailand as international exhibitors and visitors cut costs and downsize their spaces.
Thai Exhibition Association president Pravit Sribanditmongkol said the number of exhibitions in Thailand has recovered to 70% of the level seen in 2019, and is expected to return to normal by the end of this year.
However, the average occupancy rate across all exhibition spaces is only 50% as international exhibitors prioritise cost-saving measures and select only events that offer assurances of secured business deals.
“There is an influx of pent-up demand for face-to-face events. But due to surging travel costs like airfares, exhibitors and also visitors have to reduce their costs by cutting the number of staff participating in the show and reduce space usage,” said Mr Pravit.
He said the industry might have to wait until next year to see revenue and occupancy rates return to normal.
Mr Pravit said the absence of the Chinese market has impacted the Thai exhibition business as participants from the mainland have difficulties with outbound travel.
“The prolonged zero-Covid policy in China might impact us. But unlike leisure tourists, we remain positive that business travellers can continue to grow if the Chinese government considers easing restrictions further for this group after this segment is permitted to take overseas trips,” said Mr Pravit.
Thailand’s full reopening in July this year and Bangkok’s role as host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit has helped the country secure the top position in Southeast Asia in terms of the number of exhibitions being held, Mr Pravit said.
In terms of Asia, Thailand now trails only Japan and South Korea, he added.
He said big global exhibition organisers had already brought back their shows to Thailand.
However, Mr Pravit said they are expected to branch out to more niche markets by creating shows for specific industries in response to growing demand for small but effective business matching.
The Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) said yesterday that it was joining forces with 11 organisations, both from the public and private sector, for a programme called “EMTEX: Empower Thailand Exhibition”, which is expected to generate revenue of 7.8 billion baht.
TCEB president Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya said that under the EMTEX programme, a marketing campaign called SPIRE Thailand will distribute 700,000 to 1 million baht per event to 11 organisations which can persuade targeted industries to organise exhibitions in Thailand.