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Country Focus | Exhibition World 26| April 2010| A new convention centre is also planned, able to accommodate 10,000. And once the Expo itself is over, many buildings will be turned into exhibition and conference venues. The China Pavilion has already been earmarked as the official World Expo Museum. It should also be a big draw to the Shanghai New International Expo Centre, which has committed to increasing its capacity of 126,500sqm to 200,000sqm by December 2010. " 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," says MD of Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Cliff Wallace. " 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 exhibitions and conferences in China." Of course there are issues that still need attention before international organisers wholeheartedly embrace China as an events destination. The visa issue is a particularly thorny one. For the Shanghai World Expo, China is pledging to accelerate the visa application process for event organisers and visitors, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has instructed Chinese embassies and consulates around the world to use an easy process for granting visas throughout the event's life. Overseas visitors are expected to comprise around five per cent of the 70 million visitors expected to attend the event from 1 May to 31 October. Officials are also making preparations to ensure easy transportation between Shanghai and nearby cities in order for visitors to get from their hotels to the event. The knock- on effect is that the service suppliers, including venue management and event production companies, acquire more and more valuable experience for future events held in China. Building a legacy Senior director of sales and marketing at the China National Convention Centre, Beijing, Jennifer Salsbury, says the venue is building on the Olympic legacy: " We have had a tremendous response since we opened on 21 October last year. The location on the Olympic Green is important," she says. " The venue layout enables several events to run simultaneously and, in the first two months of the centre's reopening, 107 events were staged. A further 100 were operated in the first weeks of 2010. The centre was an important element in the overall plan for the 2008 Games, serving as the main press centre as well as home to the fencing and pistol- shooting events. This year it plays host to events including AchemAsia 2010, the exhibition and convention for chemical engineering and biotechnology in June, and the China Composites Expo 2010 in September. Although some of its largest recent coups have been on the conference side. Reed Travel Exhibitions' China ' IBTM' director Graeme Barnett says China's heritage and culture makes it a compelling destination for international events. " 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." It is projected that the China exhibition industry will achieve 10 per cent growth in 2010, and Essink shares in the forecasters' optimism. " Due to the economic crisis, the world's major markets have been shifted from the West to the East. We actually saw how the leading events in China had benefitted last year from the economic downturn," he says. Exhibitors, both local and overseas, find China attractive and increasingly important. With a huge population and a growing middle class, there is a stronger demand for consumer goods shows and the Chinese exhibition market is therefore no longer as dependent on global developments as in the past. And with China's exhibition market accounting for only 0.025 per cent of GDP, lower than most other markets: Germany ( 0.06%), Hong Kong ( 1.7%), there is tremendous growth potential, and abundant available venue space in most cities. With its booming economy, the Olympics behind it and the World Expo underway, China has the world watching, and with that its exhibition market appears to have roared to life. THE MAGAZINE FOR THE GLOBAL EXHIBITION COMMUNITY WWW. EXHIBITION- WORLD. NET 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, Hong Kong and Shenzhen in the Top 10. TOP 10 FINANCIAL CENTRES Source: City of London Corporation " 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," Cliff Wallace 1. London 2. New York 3. Hong Kong 4. Singapore 5. Shenzhen 6. Zurich 7. Tokyo 8. Chicago 9. Geneva 10. Shanghai