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March 2010Conference+ Meetings World www. c- mw. net 17 COUNTRY FOCUS and trade. UBM Asia has also found benefits from leveraging its position as the largest commercial exhibition organiser in China. But, where does Essink see the market heading? " Increasingly, we are seeing Chinese locals taking the middle and senior manager roles," he says. " This trend will affect on the way events are designed, not least their language and location." " The international market will always play a significant role in our events, not least because of the huge interest that it has in China and its potential," he says. " But the internal market will take far more of a prevalent role longer- term when we think about our conference business." Reed Travel Exhibitions' China ' IBTM' director Graeme Barnett says China's heritage and culture makes it a compelling destination for meetings and incentives. " CIBTM 2009 was the biggest ever, 35 per cent larger than the previous 2007 edition," notes Barnett. And there will be a 2010 China Meetings Week to run alongside CIBTM, 31 August to 2 September 2010. Shanghai World Expo Deputy director at Shanghai's International Tourism Promotion Department, Patrick Chen sees his city as a key player in the meetings industry. " The city has the best scientists and universities, increasing numbers of multinationals' regional headquarters, all of which will help Shanghai to bring thousands of meetings and association conferences. " We have appointed 52 Shanghai conference ambassadors since 2006 from various industries." The World Expo 2010 Shanghai China, will undoubtedly showcase the city and its new transportation, hotel and venue infrastructure. A new convention centre is also planned, able to accommodate 10,000 delegates. Chen is also confident service standards will be improved during World Expo. " We intend to drive Shanghai as a leading destination for meeting and conference in China and Asia," he says. After the Expo many buildings will be turned into conference venues. The China Pavilion will become a World Expo Museum. Venue view As MD of Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Cliff Wallace's venue is leading the way in knowledge transfer, with its link up the Zhengzhou ( ZZI CEC) centre on the mainland. " With the economy in China growing at a significant rate, associations and corporations from all over the world recognise the marketing and educational value of holding their conferences and meetings in China," says Wallace. " After the Olympics 2008 and the World Expo 2010, which has and will put China further in the world's limelight, I'm confident the potential for further growth is tremendous. Within the country, more national or regional corporations and associations are holding meetings for motivational or other business purposes, further fuelling the demand," he adds. Supply side On the supply side, local authorities are realising the economic benefits of the meetings industry and investing in facilities, " many of which surpass international standards", according to Wallace. " Service suppliers, including venue management, DMCs, PCOs and event production companies, continue to acquire experience as more events are held in China," he notes, although pointing out standards vary a great deal from supplier to supplier and from city to city. " China," he says " has now become a very competitive player in the world's MICE industry." CNCC: ready to banquet NEW ORDER Asian cities are challenging the old financial centre order. The City of London Corporation's Global Financial Centre's index of competitive cities puts Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong and Shenzhen in the Top 10. Starwood is partway through a five-year project to construct 60 hotels in China, while December 2010 will see the opening of the Sheraton Beijing Dongcheng Hotel, close to the Olympic Stadium, with 470 guest rooms and more than 35,000 square feet of event space. TOP 10 FINANCIAL CENTRES 1. London 2. New York 3. Hong Kong 4. Singapore 5. Shenzhen 6. Zurich 7. Tokyo 8. Chicago 9. Geneva 10. Shanghai Source: City of London Corporation Chinese tourists in the majority of European countries are now spending more than Russians. In 2009 China was responsible for the greatest number of luxury spenders in France, spending ? 158m in shops of the tax- refunded sector according to Global Refund. This was 47 per cent more than they spent the previous year. Preliminary figures from the Pacific Asia Travel Association ( PATA) did show a two per cent dip in arrivals to China ( PRC) to November 2009, although Chinese Taipei recorded a 25 per cent jump and Hong Kong SAR an eight per cent increase, with Macau SAR three per cent growth. Hong Kong Hong Kong's exhibition and convention industry saw a decrease in trade visitors during 2008/ 9. Trade visitors from mainland China fell three per cent, while regional and international visitor numbers dropped 13 per cent and 11 per cent respectively. The stronger visitor numbers from mainland China are a powerful reminder that Hong Kong connects China to the rest of the world.