The country’s exhibition industry is poised for a strong comeback this year according to the World Trade Center Metro Manila (WTCMM), the pioneer and premier world-class exhibition venue in the Philippines.
“The exhibition industry is well on its way to recovery in 2023,” said WTCMM Chairman and CEO Pamela D. Pascual. “The year 2022 showed optimistic indicators that point to restored market confidence and renewed vigor among stakeholders to go back to the exhibition floor,” she added.
Among many others, one of the hardest hit industries during the pandemic is MICE (meetings, incentives,
conferences, and exhibitions), with Exhibition as the big “E” in MICE. All booked trade shows and events for two years were temporarily discontinued and created a huge cloud of uncertainty on when these could be staged in a safe environment, according to Pascual.
WTCMM expects its business operations to recover in a robust manner with pre-pandemic business coming back strongly. While most health restrictions have now been made optional, the Company continues to be conscious of implementing some restrictions while noting that demand for exhibition space is increasing and already recording high utilization during peak months.
2022 was a good start for recovery with a critical mass of different types of events staged helped boost
the confidence of stakeholders to resume their plans and this is why WTCMM’s utilization level increasingly grew from the first half of the year and accelerated towards the second semester.
The Company’s optimism for 2023 is supported by bookings in the first half already exceeding targets. “We also have once again started to receive inquiries about the timing of the halted expansion project,
which indicates that the clamor for more exhibition spaces has remained and that the health pandemic
was only a temporary setback. The desire to capture more markets for exhibition continues to be strong,” Pascual said.
WTCMM anticipates more foreign organizers staging their shows in the country in the coming years, and with international borders open, an increase in foreign exhibitor companies is believed to be once again taking up spaces in locally organized shows. Historically, approximately 30%, if not more, of exhibition spaces are taken up by foreign companies in exhibitions held in the country.
High-powered industries such as construction, heavy machinery, agriculture, automotive, retail, food, and packaging among others supported by exhibitions and trade events have found a home in WTCMM. Interestingly, most of these industries have already infused technological innovations such as artificial intelligence and robotics in many of the machinery events.
Return to Face-to-Face
Digitalization was a key transformation during the pandemic for most industries and this is expected to stay if only to complement on-ground experiences. The physical experience gained from face-to-face interaction is the one thing that was proven will never be replaced by virtual exhibitions.
“The core of exhibitions and trade shows will remain to be driven by human interaction while virtual platforms will help generate new markets, increase remote participation and achieve new levels of efficiency in the exhibitions and events industry,” said Pascual.
Pushing the Philippines as a destination for international trade
Pascual stressed that the exhibition industry is a vehicle to promote domestic and international trade. World-class products and wares displayed during shows take center stage for the appreciation of local and foreign buyers.
When the Philippines hosts local and international exhibitions, the country benefits from increased tourist and trade arrivals which promote a circular economy through increased consumer spending for accommodations, dining, shopping, tours, etc. Increased trade receipts, on the other hand, benefit employment.
Preparing for growth
WTCMM will continue to strengthen its leadership role in the exhibition industry in the country, not only by maintaining internationally accepted standards of its facilities and services, but also realize its plan to increase its space inventory by expanding the exhibition halls to address the strong clamor from the local and foreign markets.
“I believe that increasing the space inventory of this globally renowned brand shall fortify WTCMM’s long-standing position even more as the only exhibition facility of global standards in the Philippines,” Pascual shared.