Bombay Exhibition Centre to become a vaccination site

Exhibition centers continue to accommodate medical facilities

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Previous Media Expo at the Bombay Exhibition Centre
Previous Media Expo at the Bombay Exhibition Centre

In India, extensive facilities such as NESCO, the Bombay Exhibition Centre in Goregaon are being transformed into vaccination centers just as they have been worldwide. The BEC was also used to temporarily house 10,000 migrant workers at the beginning of the Covid-19 induced lockdown last year. Media Expo Mumbai, scheduled to take place at the NESCO in March, has been rescheduled for May. Its organizers, Messe Frankfurt India, are hoping “that with the start of vaccination drives and gradual scaling back of lockdown, we also see confidence returning in the market, and Media Expo will act as a catalyst in the recovery of trade momentum for this sector.” Whether NESCO will be available for trade fairs by that time remains to be seen, given the substantial logistical implications of the vaccine set-up there as much as elsewhere.

When the Covid-19 pandemic started to get out of hand last year, one major trade fair after the other had to be canceled, leaving the world’s exhibition grounds deserted, turning some of these into emergency hospitals for Covid patients. Many of these facilities are still being kept on stand-by or converted into testing or vaccination centers.

ExCel – London

One of the first exhibition grounds to be entirely requisitioned for medical purposes was London’s ExCel. The British Army installed 4,000 hospital beds at the height of the pandemic’s first wave hitting the UK. Soon after, Birmingham’s NEC was to follow with another 4,000 beds. Both are now part of England’s National Health Service Nightingale network of seven exhibition grounds, stadiums, and convention centers converted into emergency field hospitals. Most of these facilities are currently not in use, but they are maintained and kept on stand-by.

Javits Convention Center – New York

One of the first exhibition grounds to be turned into an emergency hospital in the US was the Javits Convention Center in New York. In the heart of Manhattan’s ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ neighborhood, the Center used to be Book Expo America’s main venue. Installed by the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Center’s 2,910 beds remain useful to relieve the city’s hospitals from non-Covid and convalescent patients.

In addition to smaller facilities for testing and hospitalization under tents, such as the one in New York’s Central Park, the Army Corps installed medical facilities in other exhibition and convention centers capable of accomodating hundreds or thousands of hospital beds. A typical example is the Wisconsin State Fair Park and Expo Center, serving as a stand-by hospitalization facility for deployment in the country’s vaccination campaign.

UGI Guide
The UFI Guide for good practices for adapting exhibition and convention centers published by the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry

Messe Wien – Vienna

In Europe, Messe Wien, conveniently located in Vienna’s city center, was the first trade fair center to be converted into a medical facility with 2,240 beds back in March last year. Currently, it serves as Austria’s largest Covid-19 testing facility. Fiera Milano, one of the world’s largest fairgrounds, followed by turning two of its exhibition pavilions into an emergency hospital to relieve the hospitals in the Milan and Lombardia region.

UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, quickly responded with a good practice guide for ‘Convention and Exhibition Centres as Temporary Emergency Facilities’ updated regularly.

Brussels Expo – Brussels

Heysel Center Brussels
The Heysel Center in Brussels to open as a vaccination site from 15 February 2021

Brussels Expo, which is to host Label Expo in September this year, still had high hopes, a few months ago, that it could open its doors for one of Europe’s largest car shows in January. The show was canceled, but Brussels Expo’s senior management invested heavily in a unique UV-C disinfection system installed in all of its exhibition and concert halls, conference rooms, and working spaces. In October last year, one of its halls was turned into a Covid-19 test center. Another hall, the largest, is currently being prepared to become Belgium’s largest vaccination center, opening its doors from 15 February.

In 2024, we are looking at full recovery and growth-led investment in Indian printing

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. It created the category of privately owned B2B print magazines in the country. And by its diversification in packaging, (Packaging South Asia), food processing and packaging (IndiFoodBev) and health and medical supply chain and packaging (HealthTekPak), and its community activities in training, research, and conferences (Ipp Services, Training and Research) the organization continues to create platforms that demonstrate the need for quality information, data, technology insights and events.

India is a large and tough terrain and while its book publishing and commercial printing industry have recovered and are increasingly embracing digital print, the Indian newspaper industry continues to recover its credibility and circulation. The signage industry is also recovering and new technologies and audiences such as digital 3D additive printing, digital textiles, and industrial printing are coming onto our pages. Diversification is a fact of life for our readers and like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

India is one of the fastest growing economies in nominal and real terms – in a region poised for the highest change in year to year expenditure in printing equipment and consumables. Our 2024 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock – to emphasize your visibility and relevance to your customers and turn potential markets into conversations.

– Naresh Khanna

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