UFI Global Barometer: Exhibitions Grow Worldwide, Southeast Asia Leads Expansion

July 4, 2013

Rachel Wimberly

Rachel Wimberly is president and editor-in-chief of Trade Show News Network. Follow her on Twitter - TSNN_Rachel.

Good news continues for the global exhibition industry; for first time since 2008, the outlook is positive, with a majority of companies in all regions declaring increases in turnover, according to UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry’s11th Global Barometer survey on the state of the exhibition industry.

In addition, all regions indicated three companies out of four expected a turnover increase by the first half of 2014.

The Americas and Asia/Pacific region has been predicting an increase since 2010, joined by the Middle East and Africa last year and now Europe, which has been suffering, expects to see brighter days by 2014.

Paul Woodward, UFI managing director, said, “these results indicate a positive outlook across all regions in terms of turnover increase.”

He added, “Exhibitions continue to be an excellent indicator of economic development. While remaining cautious about the global economic environment, these current survey results are good news for us all.”

The survey was conducted in June 2013 and was answered by 217 companies from 56 countries.

For both 2012 and 2013, a slight majority of companies in the Americas declared an increase of more than 10 percent of their annual profit.

The Americas remain the only region to have a majority of respondents respond that the impact of the “economic crisis” on their exhibition business is now over.

Even so, “global economic uncertainty” and “the state of the national/regional economy” remain the top issues for a majority of companies surveyed.

Asia continues to lead worldwide growth in the exhibition industry, with 16.3 million square meters of space sold by exhibition organizers in Asia in 2012, which represented growth of total net area sold of 2.7 percent, an increase from 15,876,500 sq. m. in 2011 to 16,307,250 sq. m. in 2013.

Of that total, more than 55 percent was sold in China and 12 percent in Japan.

Among the 1,948 trade fairs included in the UFI database, 874, or 45 percent, were held in those two countries.

Once again, growth was highest in Southeast Asia in 2012. Malaysia and Singapore were the fastest- growing markets and were up by 8.2 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively.

Indonesia’s exhibition market, another one in a growth spurt, expanded by 6.6 percent, Vietnam was up by 4.9 percent and the Philippines increased by 3.9 percent.

The larger markets performed better in 2012 than in the year before. Asia’s largest market, China, grew by 3 percent, while Japan increased space sold by 3.2 percent and India by 2.8 percent - all of which are higher than the regional average of 2.7 percent.

Two other large markets, Korea (+0.8 percent) and Hong Kong (-0.4 percent) were relatively flat in 2012.

“Our research shows two clear trends: 1) the continued trade fair boom in Southeast Asia and 2) the maturing of the trade fair market in mainland China. Both of these trends confirm that the trade fair market in Asia is one of the most exciting for organizers looking for high-growth opportunities,” Woodward said.

He added, “The growth in UFI’s membership in Asia reinforces the scale of the opportunities in Asia. We now have more than 200 members in Asia – accounting for approximately one third of UFI’s global membership. The number of members in Asia has risen by a factor of four in the past ten years – up from less than 50 in 2004.”

Growth is expected to continue as well, with new venues being built in Jakarta, Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur.

The exhibition markets in Africa and the Middle East also recently were tracked by UFI’s office covering those regions.

Here were some key findings:

The UAE now provides the largest indoor exhibition space with 31 percent of the Middle East total.

South Africa represents 29 percent of African indoor exhibition space, and Johannesburg is the only MEA city to offer seven purpose-built exhibition venues.

The exhibition market leaders remain the UAE, South Africa and Iran.

There has been a 14-percent increase in the number of trade fairs organized in the Middle East since 2006.

“The need for updated and reliable information about the exhibition scene in the MEA region was pressing,” said Ibrahim Alkhaldi, UFI MEA regional manager.

He added, “We were cautious in analyzing information from venues and organizers directly as this is a difficult region for data collection.”

All of the UFI research, the 11th Global Barometer and reports from Asia/Pacific, Africa and the Middle East are available for download HERE.

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