Construction on Taipei's long-awaited Nangang Exhibition Hall is likely to miss its deadline again in April, an unfortunate turn of events for the nation's exhibition industry at a time when neighboring countries are gearing up to grab a share of the market with their mega-size expo venues.
The hall was originally scheduled for completion last June but had been delayed until April.
Construction has since fallen behind schedule and the completion date will likely be pushed back once again, an official at the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA, 外貿協會), the hall operator, said during a telephone interview yesterday.
In the original plan, the hall would have been transferred to TAITRA in September and thereby facilitate preparations for next year's exhibitions.
TAITRA won the right last June to operate the Nangang hall for a period of 10 years.
TAITRA has sent an official document requesting a new completion date to the Bureau of Foreign Trade under the Ministry of Economic Affairs, which oversees construction of the hall, but has yet to receive a reply, a TAITRA official, who refused to be identified, said.
The Nangang Exhibition Hall is expected to open its doors for the first expo in March next year.
TAITRA has planned to house part of Computex Taipei -- the second-largest IT trade fair after Germany's CeBIT -- Food Taipei, Taipei Cycle, Taipei International Auto Parts and Accessories Show and the Taipei International Automobile Electronics Show in the new hall.
The three favored expo halls at the Taipei World Trade Center (TWTC) -- which can only accommodate a total of 2,500 booths -- located in the bustling Xinyi District, are no longer sufficient to host international expos.
In a bid to expand the scale of the exhibitions and compete with countries in the region, the Cabinet announced in June 2003 it would build the nation's largest expo and conference center in Nangang, with construction costs estimated at NT$3.6 billion (US$110 million), the TWTC Web site said.
The new hall, with seven floors and two underground levels -- for a total floor space of 47,000m2 -- will be able to accommodate more than 2,600 booths.
It nevertheless remains smaller than those found in China.
Hong Kong's exhibition center at Hong Kong International Airport, for example, was launched last year with a floor space of 66,000m2.
In line with Las Vegas' operational mode, Macau's new exhibition center will open its doors for business this year with a floor space of 74,000m2, a report in the Chinese-language Commercial Times said yesterday.
Expo halls in Shanghai, Dalian and Suzhou all have exhibition spaces of over 70,000m2, the report added.
South Korea, meanwhile, has decided to allot a piece of land of more than 10 hectares to build a large-sized exhibition venue.
Facing this type of competition, TAITRA said it hopes construction at Nangang Hall can be completed as soon as possible -- if not on time -- before pushing for a "second-generation" exhibition hall.
The "first-generation" hall under construction only occupies one-third of the land.
The remainder will be developed into hotels, shopping malls and offices, which should help turn Taiwan into a world-class expo location, TAITRA chairman Hsu Chih-jen (
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