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Business trends

Hong Kong and Singapore fret over trade shows after coronavirus

Businesses rethink value of exhibitions in Asia amid an industry in transition

The Singapore Airshow in February. Exhibitions are now proving difficult to organize due to global travel restrictions and social distancing measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Akira Kodaka)

HONG KONG -- Richard Chan, a Hong Kong businessman who owns a factory in China that manufactures Christmas decorations, used to spend 2 million Hong Kong dollars ($258,000) on setting up booths to promote his products at an annual industry exhibition.

But long before Chan attended the exhibition in January when the coronavirus pandemic first began to emerge, he had slashed his budget by 75% over the past 10 years because the event's effectiveness in acquiring new clients had diminished significantly.

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