The sluggish Chinese economy fuelled a strong growth in Chinese exhibitors and buyers who have pivoted to Thailand to seek new trade opportunities, according to exhibition organiser Informa Market.
Sanchai Noombunnam, country general manager of Informa Markets in Thailand, said the company this year experienced a surge in revenue from the Chinese market, and this trend will likely continue in 2024.
Post-pandemic, more Chinese exhibitors and buyers joined the company's exhibitions across all industries in Thailand, as the Chinese government has been subsidising firms to trade overseas in a bid to bring income back to the mainland.
Mr Sanchai said not only Chinese firms, but other companies within Asia, and in European and US markets still see Thailand as a regional hub for business opportunities in Southeast Asia.
Other supporting factors include the country's affordable costs compared to other destinations in Asia such as Hong Kong and Singapore, along with Thailand's diverse array of attractive tourism destinations.
In 2023, Informa Markets hosted 13 international B2B exhibitions, generating over 1.3 billion baht in revenue, far exceeding the target of 900 million baht, mainly driven by a growing number of exhibitions from around six exhibitions per year prior to the pandemic.
It partnered with China-based Sinoexpo Informa Markets in hosting Hotel and Shop Plus Thailand, bringing Chinese firms ot Bangkok to meet Thai sellers.
However, the global economic slowdown and geopolitical conflicts are expected to hamper international exhibitions next year, especially among industries that relied on European and US markets, such as jewellery and beauty products, said Mr Sanchai.
Informa Markets in Thailand will also focus on accelerating business trading within Southeast Asia, particularly in the food, jewellery, beauty, and plastic sectors.
As trends have revealed that buyers and sellers tend to select the most relevant exhibition to their own business, the company will upgrade both its services and the number of new business opportunities to attract more visitors.
Given Thailand's visa-free policy, Mr Sanchai said it indirectly benefits the exhibition segment as the scheme will help increase the number of business travellers.
He said the government should ease certain measures to facilitate foreign exhibitors in showcasing their products and subsidise domestic small- and medium-sized operators to join international trade shows in the country.
Next year, Informa Markets will host over 15 exhibitions, including a new medical laboratory and healthcare exhibition, and a new tyre expo.