by Michael C. Lowe | February 01, 2011

This is the first in M&C's special three-part series on Emerging Meetings Markets. With astronomical economic growth in China -- expected to increase by 346 percent through 2015, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce -- international meetings business should grow in tandem, and preparations are well under way to accommodate the influx. Watch for upcoming features on India in our March issue and Brazil in April.

Chinese National Convention CenterThe world's most populous country is seeking -- and getting -- a lot of attention from meeting planners. And that's certainly no accident. "China has seen dramatic change in the last 10 years," says Haiying Liu, CEO of the China National Convention Center in Beijing. "In addition to political stability and increasingly fast economic development, the government has recently begun to realize the value of the meetings industry."

Not coincidentally, the number of international association meetings held in mainland China increased from 83 in 2000 to 245 in 2009, with Beijing alone hosting 96, according to the International Congress and Convention Association's Statistics Report. The influx of international interest was enough to boost China from number 19 on the list of countries drawing the most association meetings to number nine during that same period, noted the ICCA report.

Soon, more meeting planners will experience the destination firsthand. Two of the industry's major conventions -- Site's International Conference and the ICCA Congress -- are set for Beijing in 2012 and Shanghai in 2013, respectively.

"As with every country in Asia, China is interested in hosting more international conventions and attracting the economic impact that is generated," notes Liu. "Despite some rigorous regulatory requirements in China, we are seeing growth in the meetings industry, and this is only the beginning of a process long overdue."