Exhibition World Issue 5 - 2018 - Page 44

Russia Meeting demand Paul Colston talks to Sergey Voronkov, CEO of ExpoForum, host venue for the 85th UFI Global Congress in St Petersburg For decades, St Petersburg had just one exhibition venue, Lenexpo. The city was in dire need of a state-of-the-art venue that could host conventoins and exhibitions of international signifi cance and, in 2014, ExpoForum opened as a multipurpose facility. CEO Sergey Voronkov takes up the story. ExpoForum helped shape the convention and exhibition infrastructure not only in St Petersburg, but in Russia. Its unique capabilities allowed many projects to reach a new level. After the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) relocated from Lenexpo to ExpoForum in 2016, delegate numbers increased in three years from 7,000 to 17,000 in 2018. In 2019, ExpoForum will also host the Congress of FECAVA (Federation of European Companion Animal 42 Issue 5 2018 Veterinary Associations) and the General Assembly of UNWTO. And there are event bookings for the next fi ve years already. The economic effect generated is evidenced by SPIEF in 2018 which saw 593 agreements worth a total of R2.625 trillion being signed. The Russian conference and business meetings sectors are worth more than €500m a year, according to the R&C Exhibition Research and Development Centre. A total of 1,429 exhibitions were held in Russia in 2017, 200 of them in St Petersburg. In the next four years, we will host 10 more global conventions at least, including the International Conference and Exhibition on Liquifi ed Natural Gas 2022, and the World Energy Congress 2022. Are the Lenexpo fairgrounds still part of your organisation? This year the Lenexpo brand will celebrate its 50th anniversary and the ExpoForum brand its 10th. Undoubtedly, Lenexpo is a legend of the event industry and today its pavilions host various projects, including the Permanent Centre for Import Substitution and Localisation, the Chinese Business Centre, and the Russia-Latin America Business Centre. In June 2018, one of the Lenexpo pavilions inaugurated two mini- football fi elds and the St Petersburg Children’s Ice Palace. Lenexpo is also home to Tsing Grand Restaurant, the largest Chinese restaurant in the world. Can St Petersburg become the MICE capital of Russia? St Petersburg has a number of advantages and is not as overloaded as Moscow. It is our goal to become the centre of convention and exhibition expertise of this country. According to the data of the Committee for Development of Tourism, more than 5,000 major conferences and exhibitions were held in St Petersburg in 2017, with tourism numbers growing 600,000, to 7.5m last year. St Petersburg is the only city where the exhibition tourism industry has been included in municipal law. The city government aims to develop event tourism and decrease the role of the seasonal factor Our own venue goal is to attract at least four-to-fi ve global congresses a year to the city, involving from 2,000 to 5,000 participants. Which foreign organisers are you working with? ITE Group, Reed Exhibitions, Messe Dusseldorf, Messe Essen, Messe Frankfurt, Dolphin Exhibitions, Restec and others. We have also agreed to host the next nine years of NEVA exhibition and Transtech conference events at our venue through to 2027. w w w.exhibitionworld.co.uk