More than 111,000 people are expected to turn out at the annual Computer '97 Expo, the largest computer show in Hong Kong's history, further illustrating Asia's demand for hi-tech which the industry is eager to meet. 'I don't think Asia's [computer market] will be any different to other parts of the world. The demand will increase substantially, especially as people can afford the price at the same level,' said Louis C.C. Leung, a senior manager at B & I (Business & Industrial Trade Fairs), the event organisers. Estimates by IT research firm Dataquest PC show sales in Asia, including Japan, are up 36.5 per cent on 1995 and well ahead of the worldwide growth estimate of 18 per cent on global sales of 72 million PCs. More than 23 per cent of last year's trade show visitors came from the US, Europe and the Middle East, indicating that the world's IT companies were focusing on Asia for trading and to find business partners, Mr Leung said. 'Growth in Asia is obvious, especially since the Internet became a tool for everyone. When you control information you control many things; people need to access the information world for their user works.' According to a China Bank report, Asia is the world's greatest market for computers. Mr Leung said the increased interest in the trade show came from consumers eager for a clearer understanding of what the market had to offer them. B & I started planning the event 18 months ago and is now organising 1998's. 'We inject new ideas into the show as the market changes and if there is more interest from certain sectors, then we'll cater to those developments,' he said. Since its debut in 1985, the International Computer Expo has attracted hundreds of suppliers every year. This year, the total exhibition area is up 35 per cent compared to 1996, with more than 300 vendors. In line with industry developments, B & I set six technology highlights: multimedia, software applications, infotaiment media, Internet technology, data capturing and auto-ID, and SOHO equipment. Mr Leung is expecting a tough battle between Internet vendors. 'Last year, ISPs all focused on how to get new subscribers at the show. One ISP had a DJ at its booth, and all lowered their subscription price. 'Some even provided free gifts . . . all the things you can imagine to get new subscribers, which is good for the visitor.' B & I has asked vendors to donate sales of their trademark souvenir items to the Oxfam charity organisation.