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The uncertainty on ‘Face to Face’ Exhibitions are looming large in India due to COVID 19.
Meanwhile, the huge package announced for MSME by Finance Ministry followed by GOI’s Tweet that the e-linkage for MSME will be promoted to act as
replacement for Trade Fairs and Exhibitions was taken by storm.There were confusions on the timing and context of this Tweet, including fear that the MSME Exhibition funds, majority of which are routed through NSIC will now be diverted to the Virtual Exhibitions.

TFT Editor, M Q Syed spoke with P. Uday Kumar, Director- NSIC, Ministry of MSME GOI on the situation. Excerpts follows.

The MyGovIndia Tweet which took industry by surprise
MQS: There is an unexpected stun in the Exhibition Sector on the background of GOI’s tweet on virtual substitution of Physical Fairs for MSME, your remark? 

PUK: We need to wait for the finer details, I feel it is temporary, otherwise the entire world’s Exhibition Industry will crash. However, social distancing norms are going to change the lifestyle of people specially for Exhibition and Events industry because the concept of people coming together for face to face meetings or participation will inevitably descend. 

MQS: With one such tweet- the venue doesn’t get permission to operate, organizers fear to announce events and exhibitors get discouraged not to exhibit, A big impact on entire ecosystem, Investments by venues including Pragati Maidan, HITEX, IEML, BIEC, Messe Global, NESCO, CODISSIA and many more will suffer hugely ?

PUK: Yes, even FDI’s will get influenced, yet the main belief is I think there is no immediate attention as to how the government is going to handle this circumstance.

MQS: How is MSME Sector in Exhibitions going to act in such a situation? 

PUK: MSME will be the most influenced sector- as the majority of the related business of MSMEs originates from-sort of physical showcases, they will definitely get a hit in promoting their products pan India or across the globe. Although, everybody is talking about virtual exhibitions as a decent advance now,the face to face exhibition industry will remain truly interactive.

MQS: There is huge money invested in Venues, Event Infrastructure, Human Capital etc., how will the Industry Survive? 

PUK: That is an upsetting part, it will hit each stakeholder. Venues, Event Managers, Service Providers, Hospitality Sector and Exhibition Sector as a whole. The ministry perhaps will completely revisit, change policies to create alternate markets. Exhibition format is basically to create a market for MSMEs. If the MSME market has to be created, the Government will change the schemes, alternate models for increasing the marketing revenues may be introduced. Naturally this kind of activity will give more marketing avenues for MSMEs. 

MQS: Can you get more clarity from ministry especially pertaining to MSME and NSIC linkages?

PUK: The ministry did not send any warning so far, I feel that indeed, there will be radical changes in the Exhibition organization and Exhibition Industry, it might influence a smidgen in the short term, at the end of the day I feel the things will change and there will be a blend of face to face and hybrid model of exhibitions.

MQS: Korea, China and Germany already given passage to the opening of the exhibition sector while we are still largely uncertain on opening of the sector?

PUK: Yes, they haven’t indicated Covid 19 factor to be taken seriously- and moved forward-there will be a few changes in the format the exhibitions are organized by them.

MQS:I am certain that MSME’s will hugely benefit with these plans, however, I am equally worried about the Exhibition Industry. 

PUK:I personally feel that the Exhibition Industry will initially feel setbacks.

MQS:Do you recommend we make a representation to the Commerce Ministry?

UK: I feel the Commerce Ministry is the right body to approach to talk to them about what is in store for you, how they are planning to develop the exhibition industry, whether they are going to have a change of format for exhibitions etc.

MQS: There are no quick measures from the government to open exhibitions, at least this is clear that we are not viewed at priority?

PUK:I don’t know what is in the store of the sector as of now, however, people are confident that it’s only temporary.


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