LACK of exhibition space is causing Malaysia to lose out in the race to attract international events capable of generating millions of ringgit.
Local events such as the Malaysian International Furniture Fair (MIFF) are also feeling the effects of this, says its chairman Datuk Dr Tan Chin Huat.
“For the last 10 years, I have had to resort to building tents outside the venue in order to provide the needed space for our exhibitors,” he said.
This year, MIFF’s exhibition space will grow by another 25%, and this means building tents at two locations — the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) and Matrade Exhibition and Convention Centre (MECC).
Inside, every available space including the corridors are being utilised.
Tan said the tents erected at both locations cover a total floor space of 30,000sq m.
“Exhibitions require a lot of space and must not be confused with convention centres that require much less space, being people-centric,” he added.
Event organiser UBM Malaysia’s managing director M. Gandhi said in Kuala Lumpur, there is only about 70,000sq m of exhibition space in total and this is divided into a few locations.
“In Thailand, there is some 250,000sq m exhibition space available and Singapore has almost double that.
“Currently, Indonesia has about the same amount of space as Malaysia but construction to build an additional space of 200,000sq m has already begun and is expected to be completed in two years,” he said.
Gandhi said Malaysia would be unable to attract major trade shows and exhibitions due to the lack of space to support such events.
“Looking at the region’s offerings, Malaysia could do with an exhibition space of say 100,000 sq m with expansion possibilities of doubling this space in order to compete in bringing in such shows,” he said.
He added that such shows had a spillover economy value of some seven to eight times, both directly and indirectly, in the form of hotel bookings, transportation, entertainment and investments, to name a few.
Tan said this year marked MIFF’s 19th year. Last year, they recorded RM2.57bil (USD$830) in sales.
“We have grown into a highly anticipated international event with 500 exhibitors, 30% of which are foreign companies. Additionally, we get visitors from 140 countries during the event,” he said, adding that the event’s exhibitors at both locations were not the same.
MIFF will feature various types of furniture, including accessories, fittings and hardware for the office and home.
The event will be held from March 5 to 9, from 9.30am to 6pm with free shuttle services between the two locations. Visitors are required to register and the event will be open to the public on the last day.