Global exhibition sector shows strong signs of recovery

The global exhibition sector is gradually improving following the devastating impact of the pandemic over the last 18 months, according to UFI’s Global Barometer research.

The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry reported there is a strong belief that the sector will bounce back quickly.

The proportion of companies globally expecting “no activity” for the last quarter of 2021 has fallen from 53 per cent, in January, to less than 10 per cent, while the proportion of companies with “normal activity” has increased from 12 per cent, to close to 50 per cent.

The Middle East and Africa and Central and South America regions are likely to be more affected than others with a monthly average throughout 2021 of respectively 40 per cent and 34 per cent of “no activity”.

These results are primarily driven by the “reopening dates” for exhibitions confirmed or expected to date. The majority of companies in all regions expect both local and national exhibitions to open again in the coming 12 months, and international exhibitions to reopen in the first half of 2022.

When asked what element would most help towards the “bounce-back” of exhibitions, 71 per cent of companies rank

The lifting of current travel restrictions was seen as the main driver for a rebound in exhibitions, followed by a “readiness of exhibiting companies and visitors to participate again” and “lifting of current public policies that apply locally to exhibitions”.

“The Barometer results confirm the severe impact of the pandemic on our industry,” said Kai Hattendorf, UFI managing director and CEO.

“But as most markets have reopened, or know when they most likely will reopen, the bounce-back is on its way, and the sector is confident that COVID-19 will have reinforced the value of physical events, while also pushing the development of new digital products and services.”