The International Horticultural Exhibition is a non-trade global exhibition organized by the government of the host country or a relevant department entrusted by the government. Different from an international trade fair, it is aimed at promoting the economic, cultural, and technology exchanges between countries around the world and their development in such fields. Every participating country may take the opportunity to show other countries what they have achieved in their own fields. Therefore, the International Horticultural Exhibition is celebrated as the "Olympics" for the economic and science & technology circles across the world.
Over the past century, particularly in the last couple of decades, countries around the world have been vying to host the International Horticultural Exhibition because the host country may use the Expo to: 1) promote its products and technologies to the international market, introduce international trade and technology cooperation and seek better development opportunities; 2) expand its exchanges with other countries and thus improve its international reputation and status; 3) learn from other countries’ advanced technologies to facilitate innovation at home; 4) drive urban construction and socioeconomic development; and 5) reap good economic benefits from the business opportunities.
International Horticultural Exhibitions are either comprehensive or specialized. In a comprehensive exhibition, participating countries build their own pavilions at their own expenses in the venue provided by the host country free of charge to exhibit their products or technologies; in a specialized exhibition, participating countries are responsible for the interior and exterior decoration in the venue prepared by the host country to display a specific category of products. Comprehensive exhibitions fall into two types, i.e., general and special; specialized exhibitions fall into four categories, i.e., A1, A2, B1 and B2.
International Horticultural Exhibitions are approved by the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) and fall into four categories, i.e., A1, A2, B1 and B2.
Category A1: Large-scale international horticultural exhibitions. There is no more than one such exhibition every year. An A1 exhibition lasts no less than three months and no more than six months. Participation applications are filed 6-12 years before the opening of the exhibition and there should be exhibitors from at least 10 countries. Such an exhibition must cover all the areas of horticulture.
Category A2: International horticultural exhibitions. There are at most two such exhibitions every year. Where the two exhibitions are held in the same continent, their opening should be at least three months apart. An A2 exhibition lasts no less than eight days and no more than 20 days. There should be exhibitors from at least six countries.
Category B1: Long-lasting international horticultural exhibitions. There is only one such exhibition every year. A B1 exhibition lasts no less than three months and no more than six months.
The International Horticultural Exhibition, the highest level of specialized international expo, is also known as the International Horticultural Festival. It is the largest A1 exhibition of horticultural wonders, the integration of cultural and technological achievements, through which participating countries can learn a lot from each other. It usually lasts six months from late spring to mid-autumn. Previous International Horticultural Exhibitions were mostly held in developed European countries and the United States. In Asia, Japan hosted four Expos, i.e, Expo 1970 in Osaka, Expo 1975 in Okinawa, Expo 1985 in Tsukuba, and Expo 1990 in Tsukuba, and South Korea hosted Expo 1993 in Taejon.
Ever since the first Expo was held, the scale of the International Horticultural Exhibition has been growing. In the past, an Expo might cover an area of only tens of thousands square meters and have only a dozen participating countries. But now, an Expo may cover an area of nearly five million square meters, involve nearly 100 participating countries, attract more than 6,000 visitors and bring up to USD 400 million of economic benefits.