Olympic legacy pays dividends
Beijing recently hosted the mainland's largest gathering of Mice industry professionals. Jeffrey Xu, the exhibition manager for China Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition (CIBTM), looks at how the event reflects China's strength in the global events market
There is no better time to be part of the meetings industry in China. Despite a challenging worldwide economic environment, the meetings, incentive, conference and events industry in China and Asia is rapidly expanding.
Interest in the industry is at an all-time high and no more so is this evident than in Asia, where government and private sector investment is transforming destinations on the back of the Olympic 2008 legacy.
With inexpensive hotel stock, attractive airfares and a vastly improved infrastructure, it is easy to see why the competition has never been greater. Record figures for the CIBTM last year and Reed Travel Exhibitions' portfolio of shows - EIBTM in Barcelona, GIBTM in Abu Dhabi and AIME in Melbourne - have proved the resilience of the industry and the value placed on face-to-face contact to do business.
The fact that China is one of the world's oldest and most complex cultures makes it a more compelling destination. As an increasing number of planners and buyers realise its strong potential, China is rivalling more established Asian destinations.
CIBTM's job is to bring buyers and sellers of meetings and incentive products and services together. The exhibition's continued success can in part be directly attributed to the vision, post-2008 Olympics, of the Beijing Tourism Administration (BTA) in supporting CIBTM's efforts in creating a dedicated meetings event. The BTA vision is to fully use the world-class venues and facilities supported by a state-of-the-art infrastructure, while providing international access, high quality and a choice of accommodation, excellent levels of service and delivery and a safe environment.
Since 2007, the number of venues in Beijing has reached more than 4,000 with 10 exhibition halls and over 134,000 hotel rooms, more than 800 of which are star rated. Beijing attracts about 2,000 domestic and international meetings annually of which 140 are considered large events.
Beijing also has its new convention centre, the China National Convention Centre (CNCC), home to CIBTM. It is able to host 6,000 people and still have plenty of space for a simultaneous exhibition or business event.
The new Beijing International Airport Terminal 3 is one of the biggest in the world and has increased the city's flight capacity as a major destination. The subway system has expanded from 40km before 2008 to about 200km, helping to ease Beijing's traffic.
The country has benefited from governmental investment in infrastructure for large-scale global events such as the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai.