PARIS — According to new economic impact figures just released by UFI, the global exhibition and trade show industry contracted by 68% in 2020, compared to 2019, resulting in a loss of 2.4 million full-time jobs.
The numbers are of historic proportion: UFI’s Global Exhibition Barometer saw $224 billion of lost total exhibition-related output in 2020 — income to venues, organizers, service providers and all related sectors, such as accommodation, restaurants and transport. The biggest losses in were in North America ($90 billion) and Europe ($73 billion), followed by the Asia-Pacific region ($52 billion). As a result, the impact on revenues was devastating across the globe: 2020 revenues represented only 23% of those from 2019 in Central and South America, 24% in the Middle East and Africa and 27% in the Asia-Pacific region. Europe and North America saw revenues closer to one-third of the prior year.
Because of the shutdown of face-to-face events, which generate contacts that lead to business, UFI estimates a staggering loss of $370 billion in overall business volume.
“COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the exhibition industry, as well as those sectors who benefit from face-to-face events,” said Kai Hattendorf, UFI Managing Director and CEO. “The impact has not just been felt by exhibitors, who showcase their products and develop their sales, but also by those involved in ‘tourism-related’ activities. We all look forward to the lifting of current restrictions and the rebound of our economies, where exhibitions will play an important role.”
UFI has more than 800 member organizations in 83 countries around the world.