2020 was full of surprises, and many people’s plans were completely ruined. The global epidemic threat made organizers cancel, reschedule, or hold their events online. For importers and exporters, one of the most important platforms are trade fairs. Is it possible for trade fairs in China in 2021 to be held as they were before the pandemic?
Trade fairs during the pandemic
In March 2020, following the Coronavirus outbreak, we informed you about trade fairs and other events being rescheduled. Since then, the number of cases went from 90 thousand to at least 79 million.
Many events changed their dates multiple times, and some did not take place at all. Because COVID-19 is a highly infectious and contagious disease, plenty of countries suspended all mass events. This period is challenging for event organizers, as they face the possibility of going out of business. Smaller-scale and underpromoted events, including some fairs, will have to shut down and make some space for their competition.
How does this affect Chinese trade fairs? The most significant change was that they were moved online. A good example is the largest Chinese fair, the Canton Fair, which attracts hundreds of thousands of business owners from all over the world every year. In 2020, two Canton Fair events were held online, which turned out to be successful. HKTDC also organized a multi-brand online event to replace the annual Hong Kong fair. The biggest advantage of this practice is reducing business travel costs, as business owners can join the event even from their homes.
It does not mean that the fairs were not also held offline. Organizers arranged the events in advance, making sure to comply with the sanitary restrictions. The main guidelines were to wash hands often, wear masks, and keep the social distance. Expo halls were disinfected before and after the events. Medical points were made available for the participants, exhibitors, and personnel on the fairs’ premises, like during the China Import Expo held in the NECC in Shanghai. Additionally, innovations such as face recognition and temperature measuring equipment were placed near the fairs’ entrance to make the process easier. Robots could also be found there more often, helping fairs’ participants or operating the stands.
Trade fairs in China in 2021
Unless there will be a sudden surge in COVID-19 cases following the Chinese New Year celebrations, the most likely scenario is that foreign business owners will be able to come to China to partake in trade fairs in the spring. Depending on the situation, going through quarantine before the event, filling out a health declaration, or taking a COVID-19 test might be required.
Many events are said to have a comeback in 2021, but at the same time, the development of innovative solutions for online events might make some of them move to the virtual sphere for good.