Construction expo a success amid pandemic’s shadow


The 6th Bhutan Construction Expo concluded on May 13th marking a significant milestone with the highest exhibitor turnout in its history. 

Organized by the Construction Association of Bhutan (CAB), the event brought together 105 participants, including 30 Bhutanese businesses and 75 exhibitors from India.

Trashi Wangyel, the President, highlighted the strategic decision to hold the expo in May this year, aiming to capitalize on the upcoming 13th Five Year Plan (FYP) rollout in July. “The pandemic impacted our industry significantly,” he said.

“We believe the new government’s plans and the 13th FYP will revitalize the market, with infrastructure projects driving demand for construction services and materials,” Trashi said.

The expo coincided with the CAB’s annual general meeting allowing contractors from all 20 Dzongkhags to connect and discuss industry challenges. The President emphasized the synergy between the expo and AGM. He said the expo allows exhibitors to directly connect with contractors across the country, facilitating B2B meetings and fostering efficient material procurement.

This year’s expo is excessively proud, with a diverse range of exhibitors showcasing cutting-edge construction technologies and materials. The organizers ensured strict quality control, rejecting any substandard products. Trashi Wangyel said the materials on display showcase the rapid pace of technological advancements and that they expect these advancements to be readily available in the Bhutanese market soon.

Despite the high turnout, concerns lingered regarding visitor numbers. Wangyel attributed the lower attendance to ongoing loan moratoriums impacting potential customers’ spending power. He expressed hope that the government or Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan (RMA) easing these restrictions could stimulate market activity.

Several exhibitors highlighted their positive experiences at the expo. Vijo Hawal, representing TechMan Solutions from Siliguri, India, emphasized the value of the event.

He said, “We see this expo as an opportunity to add value to our services beyond just supplying materials. Our goal is to provide clients with high-quality products, services, and solutions.” Vijo has been a regular participant since 2004, and he commended the smooth border crossing facilitated by the expo organizers’ recommendation letters.

Siliguri Kitchens, another Indian exhibitor, participated for the first time. Sales Manager Parag Pradhan said the benefits of establishing a Bhutanese dealer network at this expo has been a great platform to connect with potential partners.

“We didn’t face any challenges, though it’s a first-visit exhibition,” he added.

Further, Ambika Biswa, Marketing Officer for Samling Group, a Bhutanese dealer for CARYSIL brand modular kitchens and appliances, shared the event’s success. Located in Babesa, Thimphu, Samling Group offers a comprehensive package, including installation services for furnished apartments.

She highlighted their participation’s primary objective: “We came to showcase Carocal’s recently developed product designs and to generate customer interest. The expo has been extremely successful in this regard, attracting a significant number of genuine customers beyond our usual sales volume.”

While she reported no major challenges, price negotiations emerged as a key point of interaction with potential customers which underscores the Bhutanese market’s price sensitivity, a factor relevant to all businesses participating in the expo.

Samling Group’s experience exemplifies the expo’s role in facilitating connections between businesses and potential customers. The influx of inquiries and genuine customer interest suggests a growing demand for high-quality kitchens and appliances in Bhutan’s flourishing construction market. As the country gears up for its 13th FYP, businesses like Samling Group are well-positioned to capitalize on this rising demand with innovative products and comprehensive services.

Further, the president expressed confidence that the four-day period, from May 10th to 13th, provided ample time for exhibitors to conduct productive business discussions. 

“Thanks to meticulous planning in the weeks leading up to the event, all participants were able to enter the exhibition smoothly and efficiently avoiding any delays,” Trashi Wangyel said, adding the exhibitors were particularly pleased with the transportation arrangements and the ease of crossing borders.

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