Fri, May 30, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Computex delay to halve visiting firms

PRE-CHRISTMAS SHOPPING Even as officials admit that attendance projections are sketchy, analysts say that holding the trade show in September defeats its purpose

By Bill Heaney  /  STAFF REPORTER

Moving Asia's largest computer trade show from June to September is expected to halve the number of overseas visitors the show can attract, the top man at the show's organizer said yesterday.

"We hope we can have more than 10,000 foreign visitors come [to this year's Computex Taipei]," Chao Yung-chuan (趙永全), secretary-general of the China External Trade Development Council (CETRA) said yesterday. "This is a significant drop from last year's 23,000 foreign buyer numbers."

Computex was originally sched-uled to start next Monday, but the show was canceled over concerns that SARS would keep exhibitors and buyers away. On Wednesday, the organizers rescheduled the event from September 22 to 26.

An official at Computex co-organizer Taipei Computer Association agreed that numbers would be down, but would not offer an attendance prediction.

"The number of foreign visitors to Computex will certainly be down this year, but as we only decided on the dates Wednesday, it is very difficult to make any predictions about attendance figures yet," association manager Sakura Yang (楊櫻姿) said yesterday.

Visitors may already have other plans for the new dates.

"The numbers will be down, as many visitors may have planned to attend other events in September," Yang said.

But the show must go on.

"We asked our members and they said they still wanted to have the show this year, not cancel it," Yang said. "They expressed a preference for a new time in September or October, and we found September 22 to 26 was a possibility."

Companies that planned to show their wares at the original Computex remained tight-lipped about the new dates yesterday.

"We just got the news this morning and are currently contacting our regional offices for feedback," said Ginny Cheng, public relations manager of BenQ Corp (明基電通). "We don't consider Computex a Taiwanese show. It is more international and therefore we need to find out the opinions of our regional offices -- for example in Hong Kong and Singapore -- before we proceed."

"The company is still in the process of evaluating whether we will go ahead with our Computex plans or not," said Stephanie Tsai (蔡瓊文), public relations manager at the Taiwan branch of US-based flat-screen computer display manufacturer Viewsonic Corp.

Computex now follows immediately after Cebit Asia, a computer trade show that takes place in Shanghai from September 18 to 21 this year, but officials deny the new dates were chosen to allow overseas visitors to take in both shows in one trip.

"We were not affected by the dates of Cebit Asia when making our decision," Yang said.

The new dates may also be too close to Comdex Fall, the world's second-largest computer trade show that takes place in Las Vegas in November, said Claire Boyce, a regular visitor to Computex.

Boyce, a computer disk-drive expert and nine-year resident of Taipei now working for a software firm in Germany, has been attending Computex annually since 1992.

Computex aficionados like Boyce are still willing to come to the September event, despite scheduling difficulties.

"I would have liked one or two days in between Cebit Asia and Computex to travel," she said yesterday. "If I was setting up a booth at both Cebit Asia and Computex, it would be a huge headache."

Boyce attended Computex as an exhibitor for six of the past 10 years, and as a buyer the other years. This year she comes as a buyer.

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