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Country Focus| Exhibition World 18| April 2010| part of the government, when an entrepreneur decided to convert an ailing factory into a trade fair venue called Bombay Exhibition Centre or BEC. This was followed by CODISSIA Coimbatore ( 2000), CTC Chennai ( 2001), HITEX Hyderabad ( 2003), KTPO Bangalore ( 2004), IEC Greater Noida ( 2005) and BIEC in Bangalore ( 2007). Of the 28 states and seven union territories in India, only six have trade fair venues. A notable omission is West Bengal, where even today trade fairs are held in stadia or open maidans. On the other hand, Germany, one- tenth the size of India, has 23 ultra- modern venues spread across the length and breadth of the country. With 61,300sqm indoor exhibition space, only one- third of which is air- conditioned, Pragati Maidan is the biggest trade fair venue in India. It is followed by BEC Mumbai ( 45,000 sqm), BIEC Bangalore ( 40,000 sqm), IEC Greater Noida ( 26,300 sqm), CODISSIA Coimbatore ( 18,800sqm), CTC Chennai ( 10,500) , HITEX Hyderabad ( 10,500 sqm) and KTPO Bangalore ( 5,400 sqm). While Pragati Maidan is the biggest exhibition venue in India, it is only one- eighth the size of Hannover Messe ( 495,000sqm), the biggest trade fair venue in the world. In fact, India's total exhibition space of 217,800sqm is smaller than any of the top eight trade fair venues in the world as shown in table below. Germany, on the other hand, has 10 venues with exhibition space more than 100,000sqm and six with exhibition space more than 50,000sqm. Worldwide, there are 47 venues with covered exhibition space more than 100,000sqm, including 12 outside Europe, four of them in China. Considering that 81 per cent of exhibiting companies in Germany consider trade fairs and exhibitions to be important to their overall communication strategy, it is not surprising that Germany's exports ( US$ 1.36bn) and imports ( US$ 1.12bn) are nine and five times that of India respectively. Globally, size is only one of the factors by which exhibition venues are evaluated. Competition among exhibition venues is as much in terms of services like on-line booking, car parking, warehousing, food courts, meeting rooms, conference halls, auditoria, travel desks, interpreters, banks, wash rooms, cable, Internet, Wi- Fi, communication facilities etc. as it is for exhibition space . Unfortunately, India lags far behind in these areas. For example, while the McCormick Place in Chicago has 173 meeting rooms, Pragati Maidan has none. this forces organisers to convert exhibition space into meeting rooms at exhorbitant cost. Similarly, while Hannover has 44 restaurants featuring cuisine from around the world, Pragati Maidan has only a handful of roadside eateries. This compels exhibitors to go back to their hotels for food, or go hungry. Although the service and attitude of trade fair venues has improved with the entry of private players like BIEC Bangalore and HITEX Hyderabad, Indian trade fair venues have a long way to go before they can come anywhere near the global leaders in this area. Jagmohan Chopra has over 20 years' experience managing and marketing trade fairs in India, including Build- Tech, Golf India and India Telecom. He contributes to Indian newspapers including The Times Of India, The Tribune and The Business Standard. He is writing a book on the history of trade fairs in India. THE MAGAZINE FOR THE GLOBAL EXHIBITION COMMUNITY WWW. EXHIBITION- WORLD. NET The BIEC Centre in Bangalore Chopra's top ten international exhibition venues VenueCityCountryGross Indoor Exbn. Space ( sqm) Hannover MesseHannoverGermany495,000 Fiera MilanoMilanoItaly345,000 Frankfurt MesseFrankfurtGermany321,700 Koln MesseKolnGermany284,000 Dusseldorf MesseDusseldorfGermany263,900 McCormick CentreChicagoUSA248,000 Feria ValenciaValenciaSpain231,000 Paris Expo Porte de VersaillesParisFrance227,400 Crocus ExpoMoscowRussia213,800 Paris- Nord VillepinteParisFrance210,000 Pragati MaidanNew DelhiIndia61,300* * only one- third of this is air- conditioned