The Plastindia trade show announced Feb. 11 that its next edition, in 2018, will remain in Gandhinagar, rather than relocate back to New Delhi, with organizers announcing it a success in its new venue.
Some exhibitors were less upbeat, however, saying that relocating the fair kept attendance down among foreign buyers.
As well, they argued that Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat state, and the much larger nearby city of Ahmedabad lacked enough good hotels, transportation and other soft services needed.
Still, Plastindia officials said the event was a success, pointing to the “overwhelming response” to incentive programs for machinery buying that the government of the state of Gujarat gave for purchases made at the show.
“Plastindia 2015 has surpassed all our expectations,” said Subhash Kadakia, president of the Mumbai-based Plastindia Foundation, which organizes the show.
Plastindia said in its statement that the event drew almost 200,000 people, 35 percent more than the last show in 2012, which would make it one of the largest three plastics trade fairs globally, measured by attendance.
J.R Shah, chairman of the National Exhibition Council of the Plastindia Foundation, said the show received an “excellent response. We are confident that Gandhinagar will prove to be pleasant and rewarding experience for all stakeholders.”
But some exhibitors who spoke with Plastics News said some aspects of the show were not up to the standards of other large international plastics fairs.
The Plastindia Foundation decided in September to move the fair from Delhi to a new exhibition grounds in Gandhinagar.
“Delhi has more experience in running a big fair,” said Sushil Goel, with AS Industrial Consulting Services, which was representing machine maker Shanghai Forward Machinery Co. Ltd. “If it will be here every time, it will not be so good. The city is not so connected internationally.”
“It's not important where they have the show but we need services,”' said Y.S. Lai, also with Shanghai Forward. “Not only the convention center itself but the hotels, transportation.”
Sunil Jain, president of Rajoo Engineers Ltd., one of the show's larger exhibitors, said he was “unexpectedly happy” with the show, after he and others had a lot of skepticism that the new Gandhinagar venue would be finished on time.
“As an exhibitor I would say it is a success but I would say we are missing people,” he said in an interview at the show. “We got so much bad press, everyone was talking about it, that kept the foreign visitors away.”
The move to Gujarat was controversial, prompting lawsuits from some exhibitors and the resignation of one of the Plastindia Foundation board members over the decision to move the site so close to the start of the show.
A few companies pulled out of the show, and a lawsuit from some of them accused the new Indian government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of pressuring the show to move to Gujarat, Modi's home state and power base.
Plastindia's Kadakia said the organization hired an outside group to survey exhibitors and participants.
“Seventy-five percent of the people say they would love to come back here,” Kadakia said.
Mahendra Patel, chairman of the Plastic Machinery Manufacturers Association of India, said that even with problems of the Gandhinagar grounds being so new, it was still an improvement over the Pragati Maidan fairgrounds in Delhi.
“Most of the consensus is that people want to stay here,” he said in an interview at the show.