May 31, 2023 | 10 min read

Growing Interest in East Asia.

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) Skyline
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) Skyline

There is a growing international professional and business interest in East Asia. As a result, there is an upsurge in associations and companies organizing conferences and events in the region.

The region has always been a popular tourist destination. In addition, recent economic growth and high projected growth rates have increased interest from international associations and businesses. This interest in organizing international conferences in the region is further fueled by the expanding Asia's middle class and the growing local need to participate in professional events.

The East Asia Economy

The East Asia region is home to over 2 billion people, making it the most populous region in the world. It encompasses a rich combination of cultures, nationalities, traditions, and languages unparalleled in other parts of the world.

This region enjoys economic growth and stability and is believed to have a promising future compared to other areas. In 2019, China surpassed the US in the number of FORTUNE Global 500 listed companies.

Currently, two of the three biggest economies by GDP are East Asia - China and Japan. McKinsey's Global Institute projects that Asia will account for over 50% of global GDP by 2040. The International Monetary Fund projects that China's GDP will grow by over 5% in 2023 and reach 19.4 trillion USD. Japan is expected to have a GDP of 4.4 trillion USD, making it the world's 3rd largest economy.

Events and Conferences Infrastructure and Support.

Singapore Changi Airport Fountain
Singapore Changi Airport Fountain

Governments in Asia are supporting international events to gain greater global recognition, strengthen their influence in trade, science, and international politics, and attract foreign investments. For this aim, local governments invested and encouraged the building of airports, transportation infrastructure, convention centers, and hotels.

Here are a few examples of infrastructure development facilitating better conferences:

The Long Thanh Internationa Airport
In 2021, Vietnam started building the Long Thanh Internationa Airport. The new airport near Ho Chi Minh City is designed to serve over 100 million passengers annually.
Canton Fair Complex expansion
In 2020, Canton Fair Complex, Guangzhou, China, the largest exhibition complex in the world, started an expansion and upgrade plan, making it bigger and more environmentally friendly.
Shenzhen World Exhibition Center
In 2019 the Shenzhen Municipal Government, China, opened the Shenzhen World Exhibition Center. The center is currently the world's third-largest exhibition center, with an indoor exhibition space of 410,000 square meters. The government plans to expand it even further.
New Hotels

According to STR, a hospitality industry data provider, China has 299,458 rooms in construction, followed by Vietnam with 36,358 rooms.

In addition, according to TOPHOTELPROJECTS, as of 2023, there are 18,492 rooms in construction in Japan.

East Asian Country's Event Industry

The East Asia event market is experiencing significant growth. Allied Market Research projects Asia events industry size will reach $567.1 billion by 2026. Business events and seminars hold the largest market share, accounting for over 55%.

Furthermore, a Business Strategies Group (BSG) study indicates that trade fair revenues in Asia exceeded USD 5.7 billion in 2018, with China contributing USD 2.3 billion and Japan contributing USD 1 billion.

The growth in ICCA members from Asia demonstrates the event industry evolution. For example, the number of ICCA member organizations from China grew from 27 in 2013 to 104 in 2023. Japan has 33 members, Thailand has 13 members, and Singapore has nine.

Choosing a Country

East Asia Region
East Asia Region, Cities and Countries
Tokyo Japan
Tokyo, Japan
Great Wall of China in Beijing
Great Wall of China in Beijing

When Event organizers select a country for hosting the event, they may consider things such as:

Consider how accessible is the hosting country and city to international visitors, including international airports, flight costs, transportation, and visa requirements.

Consider required event infrastructure like venues and AV options, local support, internet access, and suppliers that can effectively take part in executing international events.

Hong Kong and Singapore are among the region's most popular countries for international events, thanks to being accessible with direct flights from over 100 cities and having the required event infrastructure.

China has a vast selection of modern venues with cutting-edge technology and a large capacity. On the other hand, South Korea can entertain and provide musical acts and singers.

Finally, Vietnam might suit those looking for an exotic location.

Safety and Security
The Global Peace Index (GPI) ranks world countries from 1, being perfectly safe, to 5, meaning very dangerous. According to the GPI, the region (except for North Korea) is as safe as Europe and generally safer than the US. Japan is the safest country with a GIP score of 1.34, and the Philippines gets the worst safety score of 2.34, which is still better than the US score of 2.44.

As in most countries and cities, events require permits, such as a licensed venue permit and safety and health-related permits.

In China and Vietnam, getting a permit also requires submitting additional information regarding the topics, content, and speakers. In addition, if the event has a political aspect, hosting prominent figures, or the event content is related to security or sensitive topics, getting a license could be challenging.

In addition, organizers should be prepared for the hosting country denying visas from political figures, international reporters, and celebrities who have spoken against the hosting government or are seen as a potential risk to public peace.

Tourism Appeal

Generally, the East Asia region appeals to international tourism and is considered an attractive and exotic destination.

Based on 2019 numbers (pre covid), Compared to local population size and GDP, tourism is a vital part of the economy in Thailand, The Philippines, and Vietnam.

The following table illustrates the prominence and influence of tourism on the local residents.

Region Residents Visitors GDP part
Thailand 66M 40M 12%
Philippines 117M 8M 13%
Vietnam 100M 30M 7%
Japan 125M 30M 2%
Hong Kong 125M 56M 3%
China 1.4B 145M 3.3%

Bangkok Thailand
Bangkok, Thailand
Visa requirements

Visa requirements have become more relaxed in many Asian countries, making travel for business events more accessible.

Hong Kong
Visa-free for many countries
China has visa-free entry for up to 6 days, applicable to citizens of 53 countries, including the US and many European countries. And a limited 24-hour visa-free entry applicable to citizens of all countries. Otherwise, US and European citizens need to apply for a visa before the visit, which takes a few days after you submit all the required documents and a picture, and pay the fee of $40 to $180.
Japan has a visa exemption policy for 69 countries, including the US, European counties, and Middle Eastern countries.
Singapore is Visa-free for most countries, including all European countries, the US, and Canada. See detailed list on Singapore's Checkpoints Authority website
Taiwan is visa-free for most countries, including the US, Canada, and most European countries, for up to 90 days. Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs Visa-Exempt Entry
The Philippines
Citizens of 157 countries, including the US, Canada, and most European countries, are given visas for visits of 14 days.
Thailand is visa-free for visits up to 45 days for people from 64 counties, including the US, Canada, and most European countries.
Vietnam's visa-free access program includes 25 countries but seeks to expand the list.

Asian Countries Similarities

The meetings industry in each country has unique features. However, there are shared characteristics intrinsic to Asian business practices that distinguish them from business and event organizers in the West.

Hierarchical Relationships
Indirect and less confrontational communication style

People in the region consider harmony and relationships as highly important. In practice, they tend to avoid confrontation in order to preserve harmony. For example, saying "no" could be considered aggressive or offensive, so instead of directly refusing, they could provide an unclear response, delay the answer, or subtly delay the task they were asked to do.

Politics or religion are sensitive and personal subjects. Therefore, it is better to avoid discussing politics or religious issues as it might be stressful for locals.


It's a common belief that patience is a prerequisite for success. Compared to Westerners, Asians tend to take a more conscious approach when required to make a business decision. In the West, quick and efficient problem-solving is a priority.

In Asia, long-term consequences are important as well. Business professionals in Asia value making thoughtful decisions and are more likely to seek the input of their superiors or delegate decision-making authority.

The longer decision-making process in Asia means that planning for events in the Asia-Pacific region requires a longer lead time than in other parts of the world.

Event organizers should start preparations earlier than usual to accommodate these cultural differences.

Food culture
Meals in Asia enjoy longer meal breaks and use them for socializing with colleagues.
Greetings gestures

Greeting with a handshake is common in most countries in the region. Still, bowing is a common gesture in Japan and South Korea to show respect, express thanks, or apologize.

Pointing a finger is also something locals may find rude, so to point something out, use the whole hand.

Tipping is not expected and might be considered rude.

Inviting Guests to Events

Making a good first impression starts with a well-crafted invitation, but how do you make it appropriate when hosting an event in Asia? Here are several tips to keep in mind:

Email is a preferred channel for 89% of the organizations in Asia, making it a sensible choice for sending event invitations.

In addition to the event details (date, location, subject), consider mentioning the guest of honor if there is one. Be sure to specify the dress code, as some Asian cultures have specific attire for certain events. For example, in Vietnam, guests may prefer to sit on the floor while eating lunch, which could affect their clothing choices. Use appropriate language and tone in your invitation, and include all necessary information, such as transportation options and special requests. Using culturally significant symbols or offering a small gift can also be appreciated. Finally, be respectful and open-minded, and show that you value the customs and traditions of the region where you are hosting your event.

Choosing a Venue

Asia has an array of outstanding premium, excellent value-for-money venues. You'll be spoiled for choice, with luxury conference spaces available in Hong Kong and Bali and beautiful spots boasting diverse scenery.

The following tips can assist you in finding a venue that aligns with your budget and event vision:

  • If the value for money is a priority, check out Cambodia and Vietnam. Both countries offer excellent and affordable hotels and exhibition centers.
  • Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Singapore are top options for bigger budgets, conferences, and business events.
  • Use online platforms like Venuerific and Venue Spaces to explore venues and filter them by category and location. Online platforms can help you create a list of venue options.
  • Check for potential space in conference centers, hotels, and universities.
  • Choose business hubs if you want to plan a grand event. Adding allure and extravagance through a luxurious location is a great way to make your event memorable.

Entertainment and Rejuvenating Activities

martial art workshop
Martial Art Workshop
Sushi Workshop
Sushi Workshop

Adding entertainment to an event helps make it a long-lasting, memorable experience. In addition, incorporating local expertise can make it unique.

The East-Asia region has a lot to offer in this respect, thanks to local residents' unique and diverse culture. Entertainment, for example, can include traditional dances, music, and martial arts demonstrations. Likewise, recreational workshops can revolve around local art, crafts, food, or traditional games.

Volunteer Management

Volunteer management is needed for many events, and this is especially true in Asia. Hiring volunteers to assist with your event in Asia is common, especially at large-scale meetings where onsite support is needed.

Volunteers can contribute to the success of your event, so it's worthwhile to invest in bringing them on board and supporting their motivation to help. For example, if people are excited about the event's messages, they'll be eager to help communicate them.

Budget Factors to Consider When Organizing Business Events in Asia

Flights to Asia

The average flight cost from the US and Europe to major cities in the region is $1,000 to USD 1,500.

There is little price difference between the cities, but there is a difference in the availability of direct flights. Singapore, Seoul, Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Taipei have each direct flights to over 100 cities worldwide.

Hanoi in Vietnam has the least direct flight options, with approximately 65 available.

Budget-friendly destinations

Hanoi in Vietnam is the least expensive option in the region, followed by Manila in the Philippines and Bangkok in Thailand. Beijing and Shanghai. Those cities offer better rates for accommodation, venues, food, and tourist services, which can help keep the event and the participant's budgets in check.

An average 4-star hotel costs $50 to $150 per room per night. Conference venues are $20 to $100 per person per day; basic lunch costs $5 to $15, and a videographer's service usually starts from $300 per day.

Top destinations

Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and South Korea are more expensive cities, generally for tourists and especially for conference hosting.

In return, some benefits include enhanced security, the latest AV technologies, luxurious venues, better public transportation, more availability of English-speaking staff, and practice working with international customers.

An average 4-star hotel costs $100 to $250 per room per night. Conference venues are $100+ per person per day; a basic lunch costs $8 to $20, and a videographer's service usually starts from $400 - $500 per day.

Estimated Final Cost

The final cost of the event depends on factors such as season, venue level, and required services such as AV, travel, hotel rooms, food, and beverages. Consult with local event planners and get quotes from local suppliers to get up-to-date and accurate information when planning events in specific countries before deciding.

Finally, true everywhere, and especially in Asia - expect the unexpected. Budget for unforeseen incidents and consider potential problems. For outdoor events, prepare extra seats, provide rain protection, and have backup plans for bad weather. Include contingency plans in your budget for a smooth event.


East Asia events can be a rewarding and unique experience for everyone involved. The region's strong economy, growing middle class, government investments, and tourist appeal contribute to the growing trend of organizing events in this part of the world.

However, event organizers should consider access to international visitors, visa requirements, limiting regulations by governments, language barriers, and adequate infrastructure when choosing a specific hosting country.

Let's bring people together and foster knowledge-sharing.

See you in East Asia soon!

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