PARIS — New research on the status of sustainability in the exhibition industry from UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, and its research partner Explori reveals that despite COVID-19’s impact on the economy, many organizations have kept their eye on the ball when it comes to sustainability.
The pandemic has not shifted sustainability’s priority among most respondents: While 85% of responding companies had to stop or decrease their overall spending, that number decreased to 54% of when it comes to investment in their sustainability efforts. Half (51%) reported “no” or “limited impact” from the pandemic on their activities related to sustainability.
Among exhibitors, 73% say that their companies are taking steps toward improving sustainability. This is clearly appreciated by attendees; 36% of visitors said they would not attend a trade show that does not have a responsible approach to sustainability. There were significant differences depending on the respondents’ roles as far as identifying the areas of greatest concern regarding environmental impact: For attendees, it was plastic and food, while overall it was travel and booths.
Interestingly, almost two-thirds of participants — 67% of exhibitors and 64% of visitors — believe that exhibitions actually help them reduce their carbon footprint by allowing them to do multiple things under one roof, avoiding multiple flights.
Prioritizing sustainability is essential to the success of the industry overall, the survey found. More than half (58%) of both exhibitors and visitors consider that improving the environmental impact of exhibitions will become increasingly more important to the sector’s long-term success.
“This report is unprecedented in its analysis of the views of this industry and its clients as to the key issue of sustainability in our industry,” said Kai Hattendorf, UFI Managing Director and CEO.
The survey can be downloaded at www.ufi.org/research.