The convention and exhibition industry originated in Europe and North America. As a new industry it is now developing rapidly and has already become a global industry. And the industry is expanding rapidly in China.
Each year there are more than 400,000 international conventions held worldwide and the direct and indirect economic benefits exceed USD280 billion. The large potential of the industry and the high returns have attracted many governmental and non-governmental institutions to invest in the new business.
Governments and enterprises greatly value investment in modern exhibition centers due to the rapid development of the convention and exhibition industry and its promotion of economic development. In recent years exhibition centers have been completed in Xiamen, Nanjing, Changchun, Changsha, Xi'an, Qingdao, Hefei, Shenyang, Yantai, Chengdu, Wuhan, and Shanghai . The development level of this industry is in line with China's overall economic development level.
Today, most cities have their own exhibition venues and many are holding exhibitions more or less constantly. More and more provinces are now developing their own convention and exhibition industries. In fact, the industry in China is now mainly concentrated in several provinces. The recognized exhibition cities in China are: Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou; and Guangdong, Beijing, Shanghai, Zhejiang, and Jiangsu are the top five provinces and municipalities with an advanced convention and exhibition industry. This reflects the fact that the Chinese convention and exhibition industry is concentrated in provinces with advanced manufacturing industry and a developed economy.
The global exhibition industry has following characteristics: a high degree of specialization, a strengthening trend towards internationalization, more and more entrepreneurial behavior, and intensified market competition. Germany, the USA, and France are leading the global exhibition industry; while Asia, especially East Asia, has an industry that is growing rapidly: both in scale and in influence. Chinese cities can be divided into four levels in scale and quantity of exhibitions. The first level is Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Dalian; the second level includes Tianjin, Chengdu, Shenzhen, Kunming, Harbin; the third level includes Xiamen, Nanjing, Wuhan; and the fourth level, which is also called the new generation, includes Hangzhou, Ningbo, Guilin, and Nanning.
The global meeting industry has also developed greatly along with the development of MICE. Now there are more than 300 professional conference organizations in the world, but there are not so many in China. Meetings and conferences in China are often spearheaded by industrial associations, organized by themselves or by tourism operators. Furthermore the market development of meeting venues is in an initial stage. Market operations of convention and exhibition centers are generally focusing on the convention and exhibition industry, and supported by tourism, entertainment, dining, hotel, advertising, and other sectors. This multi-channel, comprehensive service system will enable the industry to achieve its the overall goal of economic benefits from convention and exhibition centers.