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T he Indian economy is expected to quadruple in size between now and 2020, according to a report by Edelweiss Capital. Currently worth US$ 160m, India's exhibition industry has the potential to grow to US$ 990m, according to a recent report compiled for UFI by the Business Strategies Group. However, these are hypothetical statistics that while widening the eyes of many overseas investors, do little to entice the international exhibition organising community. At a time when east European specialist organiser ITE is increasing its footprint in India with the purchase of the as- yet- untitled business operation of the former Expomedia Group, most overseas exhibition organisers are withdrawing. Among the most recent émigrés are Montgomery Worldwide, which closed its Indian division last year, dissolving its joint venture with Inter Ads Exhibitions; InterAdsMontgomery, and Reed Exhibitions, which closed its New Delhi office in a bid to consolidate business elsewhere. Informa has also changed its focus, looking to capitalise on its business in the Middle East instead, pulling out of India and opening an office in Saudi Arabia. The truth is that far from being honey to the proverbial bees, the Indian exhibition market needs to overcome many challenges before its growth potential can be tapped by organisers. " Venues are the most important obstacle facing the Indian exhibition, convention and trade show industry business. We need world- class infrastructure to host our big exhibitions," says Manish Gandhi, executive director of Asian Business Exhibition and Conferences, organiser of the upcoming AceTech construction exhibition in Mumbai. According to the BSG report, venue space dedicated to exhibitions in India was 254,707sqm in 2009, and no new venues are planned for at least two years. The shortage of space in cities like Mumbai and New Delhi is a particular problem, as it is these cities that have the critical mass of potential visitors necessary to support a While India's economy is expected to continue its rapid growth over the next 10 years, the country's exhibition industry is still misfiring. Antony Reeve- Crooklooks at what is being done to bring India into the premier league. The Indian dilemma Cover Story | Exhibition World 12| THE MAGAZINE FOR THE GLOBAL EXHIBITION COMMUNITY WWW. EXHIBITION- WORLD. NET " In 25 years the industry remains fragmented, closed, and has not reached its potential." - Vicki Bedi. busy trade fair calendar. Gandhi believes that for the Indian exhibition industry to achieve anything approaching its US$ 990m market potential, it needs to create an additional 800,000sqm of exhibition space. " Venue creation holds the key to future growth. And venue creation, being a highly capital- intensive activity, needs government support and subsidies," he says, adding that the real challenge to organisers in India is to scale up the exhibitions and still give value to the exhibitors. But as anyone who's tried to organise an event in India will tell you, space is far from the only problem. Regulations and bureaucracy make it as difficult for organisers to manoeuvre as any shortage of square metres. As Gandhi puts it, " Government regulations are not conducive to fast growth in this sector, the problem is that the exhibition sector is yet to get Government recognition." Investment in venues and infrastructure is key to India's success

Exhibition World | Cover Story The MD of UK logistics company Show Carriage, Ian Croxson, is one of the official partners for the Global Security India 2010 exhibition on 28- 30 April. The event, which focuses on homeland security and counter terrorism is, ironically, a rare example of the Indian government being focused towards providing support for the trade show market. Croxson believes that in the UK, organisers still face an unnecessary struggle to get their shows underway in India. " As far as UK activity is concerned, we are hampered by the bureaucracy involved under temporary importation into India, in that UK Trade and Investment, unlike other EU- based organisations, is unwilling to issue Bank Guarantees on behalf of UK companies, in favour of Indian customs. " The end result is much expense and red tape in preparation, with a certain reluctance to enter the market as it is both complicated and bureaucratic," says Croxson. It's a further example of the complications arising from doing business with India, a country fiercely protective of its domestic market. However, the temptation to point the finger of blame at the Indian government is not fully justified, according to the MD of Indian logistics firm PS Bedi, Vicki Bedi. He believes the ills of the industry are in part due to the failure to establish a mature exhibition industry association, recognised by the government, that can effectively lobby for government investment. This, he claims, is at least partly down to a " closed community" of stakeholders averse to competition, standing in the way of progress. " Some of the industry leaders who fear competition are responsible for not allowing the industry to mature, which has further resulted in a lack of support from the Government, since the importance of the industry - with its very small number of players - is not fully recognised," he says. " My company sought to become a member of the then newly formed Indian Exhibition Industry Association ( IEIA) about four years ago but nothing happened. And the reason nothing happened is that they didn't allow anyone else to get in." However, change is afoot. Anil Arora, the current honourary secretary of the IEIA, knows strength lies in numbers. " To have our voice heard we have to have the numbers. Over the last year we have put in a lot of effort to get our large organisers involved," says Arora. " From 10 honourary members ( organisers, venue owners and service providers) it has grown to 30, and this should reach 45 within the next year or so." But this number is still short of what it takes to put the association on the Ministry of Commerce's radar. So the IEIA is now giving out associate membership, tying in hotels, caterers, housekeeping, security agencies and so on, making the IEIA representative of a larger industrial base. THE MAGAZINE FOR THE GLOBAL EXHIBITION COMMUNITY WWW. EXHIBITION- WORLD. NET13 While India is a signatory to the ATA Carnet Convention, it is left for the individual exhibitor to arrange via their corresponding banks. Manish Gandhi Dinner at the Hyderabad International Convention CentreNew Delhi; a city with huge potential for exhibition organisers