TabInfo Asia 2009 – Bangkok Thailand – fallout.

Even before it opened TabInfo Asia 2009, held in Bangkok Thailand November 11-13, had problems which only became worse.

Originally arranged as a private Tobacco Industry event, the Thai government declared it public shortly before opening. This meant all Thai tobacco restrictions on advertising and tobacco product display (which are stringent) were effective – something the organizers (Tobacco Reporter and Think Event Marketing) thought had been covered.

Caught wrong-footed the organizers rushed to issue statements to exhibitors advising the new restrictions and the penalties for violators. With this back-drop it became unviable to show any tobacco products or advertising without risking fines and / or imprisonment – something not too many exhibitors were willing to risk.

Under goverment pressure the Thai Tobacco Monopoly converted their mega show-case anchor stand into a Welcome to Thailand Center.

Demonstrators gathered outside the site to protest on the first day – kept at bay by last-minute security personnel.

Total attendance was less than 1,000 visitors over three days leaving plenty of time to renew acquaintances with tobacco colleagues and fellow exhibitors from around the world. Opportunities to develop contacts and conduct business evaporated -leaving dismay and cost.

Post exhibition; the original decision to hold a show in Thailand looked flawed. The exhibition hall at the Impact Centre (sic)  was a considerable distance from the centre of Bangkok requiring a commute of 40 minutes each way – assuming traffic cooperated (which it didn’t.) Predictably exhibitors were upset – raising the broader issue of the number of Tobacco exhibitions in close proximity between Tobacco Reporter (TR), World Tobacco (WT) and Tobacco Intenational (TI.)

To illustrate; in 2010 Tobacco International (TI) holds its annual show in Krakow Poland April 15-17. WT plans its show in Hyderabad India April 21/21, TR a networking forum (gtnf) in Bangalore in October – followed by WT Asia in Jakarta October 27-29. 2011 sees a WT show in Munich November 8-10 then TR Prague November 15-18. WT plans another show in Jakarta in November 2012.

The industry can’t keep up. The Tobacco Industry cost structure has changed and the show organizers show no sign of acknowledging this fundamental shift. The signs are all around. Big tobacco withdrew its participation about 10 years ago, followed by the larger machinery suppliers. Shows have shrunk and so has attendance.

The show organizers need to reconsider their events as there is mounting evidence it is unsustainable.

Feel free to add your comments and suggestions…………………………

4 comments ↓

#1 Bill Godshall on 12.15.09 at 1:35 PM

I suspect that was the last international tobacco conference to be held in a country that doesn’t protect freedom of speech or the right to public assemby.

I was invited to participate in a discussion at the conference about tobacco harm reduction products and policies, but declined to go because I couldn’t afford the expense (and because I won’t accept tobacco industry funding).

Its unfortunate that the goal of the protest was to sabotage the conference, not to reduce tobacco diseases or deaths.

Abstinence-only anti-tobacco/nicotine extremists have deluded themselves to believe that hating, harrassing and banning the tobacco industry is more important than reducing or preventing toboacco diseases.

Reminds me of anti abortion extremists who oppose sensible policies to reduce unwanted pregnances and sexually transmitted diseases simply because those reasonable policies are inconsistent or interfere with their ideological goal of outlawing all abortions.

#2 Colin Mackie on 12.20.09 at 8:24 PM

There is no denying that the event was, for almost all attendees, a total and costly disaster.

The number of attendees was exceptionally low and, as first-time exhibitors, it could well have been a very expensive one-time-only occurrence for us.

However, I have to admit that even with all of the massive problems and concerns, Piparette had a very successful result. Perhaps it was because we were one of the only exhibitors with something totally new and exciting, or that I had a lovely Brazilian lady on our stand, I do not know.

I do also concede with Chris that there seems to be an inordinate number of events that I could, and possibly, should attend, but this would be highly time and cost prohibitive for a young company such as ours.

One or two really good events annually would seem to be the most sensible approach. I would hope that the organisers of these events sit down together and look at the industry as it is today and will be over the next few years and plan something that exhibitors and attendees alike will make as an essential must-attend event.

#3 Anthony Grijpstra on 12.21.09 at 6:32 AM

I think that a re-thinking on the number and locations of all the tobacco releated exhibitions should be done by ALL the organisers.
I strongly propose the hold 1 tobacco exhibition per year and to locate in sequence that exhibition on different continents eg in 2010 in Asia, in 2011 in Europe and in 2012 in America.
This will be then for the exhibitors rewarding as only 1 show per year will give them time to present new ideas and for the visitors it will be rewarding to see and meet suppliers.
So ALL organizers of the present shows will have to join into this schedule otherwise the present exhibitors will withdraw from any of the “planned” shows.

#4 Kaden on 07.12.11 at 7:25 PM

I’ll try to put this to good use imedimately.

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