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‘Making the unimaginable happen’ — organisers demonstrate resilience at the AIPH Virtual Expo Conference

The virtual AIPH International Horticultural Expo Conference on 16 March attracted over 140 delegates online from over 50 countries worldwide, eager to listen to future International Horticultural Expos’ progress reports.

There is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the progress of these enormous events, but through adversity came stories of strong leadership, agile planning and the overwhelming spirit of resilience.

International Horticultural Expos showcase beauty and creativity, with a magnificent Expo park attracting many international participants, who build their pavilions lasting up to six months and captivating the imagination of many millions of visitors domestically and internationally. Although Covid-19 is here for the long haul, these open-air events are looking positively to the future. Every International Horticultural Expo is carefully regulated, steered, and monitored by AIPH, and the period from now until 2027 includes ten AIPH-approved expos.

The conference, on the Hopin platform, began with a progress presentation from Floriade Expo 2022 Almere. There is just one year to go until the opening. “The landscaping and planting in Almere continue, while the real estate and infrastructure near completion”, reports Chief Operating Officer for the Expo, Mr Sven Stimac. He speaks of the positive response from more than 40 countries confirming diplomatic participation in the 2022 event and more than 50 partnerships from the horticulture sector. Everything is continuing to plan, with a healthy and sensitive focus on Covid-19 prevention measures for the event in the Netherlands. Interest from people is increasing, as Mr Stimac reports more participation online in the Floriade Knowledge Programmes webinars than were initially planned for the physical seminars.

Considering the time it takes to prepare a high-quality A1 International Horticultural Exhibition and the difficulties in continuing preparations during the pandemic last year, it was agreed that Expo Doha Qatar moved from 2021 to 2023. In the progress report given by Mr Mohammed Ali Alkhoori, Secretary General of the Expo, he showed that the timeline’s shift has not put a dent in its ambitious event and legacy plans for the 179-day event theme Green Desert Better Environment.

The plans for the World Horticultural Exhibition Yokahama 2027 are “blossoming” in their early stages. Mr Soga Koji, Director-General of Kamiseya Development and World Horticulture Exhibition, and his team are working in partnership with the government to develop a master plan for the event. The venue area is nearly 100 hectares of landscape and takes inspiration from satoyama’s cultivation philosophy – derived from the Japanese words for the village (sato) and mountain (yama). The central theme is Scenery of the Future for Happiness, with four sub-themes aiming to generate new values based on horticulture and to pass on a growing legacy.

It was very clear from the presentations that the coronavirus pandemic has made progress very difficult, “but not impossible,” asserts Mrs Lan Zhou, Vice Director, Yangzhou Municipal Bureau of Housing and Urban-Rural Development.

Expo 2021 Yanhgzou opens in China in just a few weeks, on 8 April 2021 and continues until 8 October 2021. Mrs Lan Zhou stresses, “We have overcome many obstacles. Many people have been working very hard. We have managed to make the unimaginable happen.”

She continues: “When we made our application, we expected four million visitors would come [domestic and international] however international travel is still under strict regulation. We do hope in the latter half of our event, people can come to visit. The Department of Medical Health has worked out all the policies in place for population control and disease prevention.”

Being large in scale, AIPH International Horticultural Expos naturally draw investment into new parks and infrastructure, which become permanent additions to the city and improves residents’ quality of life. The progress report given by Expo 2021 Hatay perfectly demonstrates this action. There are two sites, Antakya and Iskenderun, on either side of a mountain, and these areas will show the rich horticultural production of the area. The organiser, Mr Hakan Arslan, explains how the transport between sites will be free and working 18 hours a day, during the event and the infrastructure will be a legacy afterwards.

Mr Harun Guzel gave many examples of how they are stimulating the horticultural industry and the Turkish landscape in Kahramanmaraş for Expo 2023 and working with and for the local people’s benefit.

Sustainability is an integral element of AIPH International Horticultural Expos and part of our philosophy. Suncheonman International Garden Expo has a grand ambition in 2023 to realise an exhibition where the entire city becomes a garden city in Korea.

Reports from our newest approvals from 30 September 2020 have been working hard on preparation. International Horticulture Exhibition Chengu 2024 has been improving the infrastructure around its Expo Park. And the organisers of Expo Izmir 2026 predict its Expo park will attract a significant number of tourists and expect 4.7million visitors.
Euroflora has had to postpone the 12th Edition in Genoa from 23 April to 8 May 2022. The organisers are planning a one-day event in September 2021 dedicated to the promotion of worldwide horticulture.

The AIPH Expo Conference presented an excellent opportunity to learn more about hosting or being involved with these major international events. AIPH is very grateful to Gold Sponsors for the conference – IGMPR and PERA Event, and our event and media partners.

If you would like to know more about the benefits of hosting an International Horticultural Expo, please contact us. We would also welcome discussions with suppliers at major events to explain the AIPH Preferred Partner programme and how your business can benefit.

Recordings of the presentations are available to watch online at www.aiph.org/event/the-expo-conference.


Rachel Wakefield
Rachel Wakefield

Communications Executive and Associate Editor
United Kingdom

[email protected]