Kintex is Korea's largest exhibition and convention centre and is even active in India via Kinexin as the operator of the new IICC in Delhi. In an interview with TFI, Kinexin CEO Phil Chung gives us the latest news.
Mr. Chung, has COVID-19 affected business activities at Kintex, and what is the current situation?
Phil Chung: Korea's COVID-19 crisis has been contained by our government during the period in question. The Korean economy's general performance has been great in many aspects - except for the MICE, hospitality, and tourism sectors. Officially, Korea is expected to post a robust year-on-year growth of 3.9 per cent. Most Korean venues are now staging large trade shows and exhibitions. This is possible thanks to hygiene measures of all kinds. With our preventive on-site measures as good practices during the COVID-19 period, we won ICCA's best marketing award in 2020.
What has happened at Kintex this year and what are your expectations for 2022?
Our business department, under Kintex Executive Vice President Jong Geun Park, expects to hold about 100 trade shows by the end of this year. Next year there should be even more. This means that the exhibition business of Korea's largest venue is back to normal - much faster than expected. However, the meeting and conference sector has been more harshly affected by the pandemic and international travel limits and bans. We will have to wait a few more months to see the actual outcome. Unlike the trade fair business, conferences and events are struggling. Based on careful expectations, Kintex only plans to have its general business result back to the level of 2019 in about 2 years.
What are the reasons for these expectations?
We're always discussing the plans with our clients and plan ahead based on their actual interview inputs. Organisers are able to stage shows under COVID conditions and are fully accustomed to the norms. Kintex is now running the ‘Preparation Group for Kintex III’, the third phase of development. It brings together experts from Kintex and our government shareholders. The expansion will add over 70,000 square metres of hall space by 2025, with further outdoor exhibiting areas and more conference spaces. Once completed, Kintex hopes to benefit from the GTX Kintex station that will start operating in late 2023. Thanks to the connection to the high-speed rail network the journey to Seoul’s city centre will only take 18 minutes - which will immensely change the metropolitan MICE scenarios.
Internationally, Kintex is also active in India, operating the new IICC event centre in Delhi with Kinexin. What is the current situation at the construction site?
Things have certainly been delayed due to India’s COVID crisis, which has been going on for months. However, we have now mobilised over 4,000 workers who are working on the construction site in Dwarka near the international airport. At present, the construction of the 60,000-square-metre exhibition halls and the congress centre, also 60,000 square metres in size, is around 70 per cent complete.
When will this first stage be finished?
We are expecting it to be completed within the next year, including sufficient time for testing activities.
Is the IICC now open for bookings or reservations?
We are now cooperating with numerous global PCOs and Indian MICE organisers - in order to stage numerous trade fairs, exhibitions and large congresses in the debut year and beyond. We also welcome all European organisers by opening wide the huge gateway to India. We can become their trade show incubator as a long-term partner. Organisers can develop great international business shows in the capital city of India, which has over 1.3 billion English-speaking people.
Do you feel that the IICC’s opening will change the Indian exhibition market?
Of course, as India suffers from insufficient venue space for numerous international conventions and shows waiting in the wings. The IICC and other upcoming new venues will enlarge the general pool of options for the MICE industry. Even Bollywood and Hollywood films can be shot here. We expect that, in about 10 years, India will need much more space again as business tourism increases (www.iiccnewdelhi.com).
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