UFI MD and CEO Kai Hattendorf on the association’s unprecedented Global Economic Impact Study.
Why did UFI decide to conduct this research?
There simply were no global numbers available covering the total impact of exhibitions. Numerous valuable economic impact reports for the exhibition industry exist, commissioned in the last few years, but almost all are at the national level and based on a broad variety of methodologies, or adding other types of events to the equation. We have asked Oxford Economics to build a standardised global framework, based on square metres as the key metric for our industry. We now know the direct spending, the indirect spending, the induced spending and we have solidly sourced data that goes beyond national or regional data. So, together with the UFI data on visitors and exhibitors, we have a global set of numbers for the first time.
Why is it important to put a number on the industry’s global economic impact?
It is important because we can use these global figures to promote the value of exhibitions to stakeholders all around the world. We can now confidently state that the global exhibition industry generates €68.7bn in direct GDP and generates a total economic impact of €275bn. This would rank our sector as the 56th largest economy in the world, above countries such as Hungary, Kuwait and Ecuador.
What is the benefit for individual countries and associations?
We designed this economic impact study in a framework so that the exhibition industry associations which are members of UFI can take this data and break it down to their national and regional level. We hope to have country profiles or reports on the economic impact for various home markets. We are already working on the first national report – and a number of other countries have already asked how to join the project.
What’s been the most interesting finding?
Apart from the regional analysis the report offers, we have also calculated the total economic impact per exhibiting company (€60,700) or sqm of indoor exhibition space (€7,900). These figures can be used when looking at building new venues or expanding current facilities, and I think are a metric that will generate some interesting extrapolations in the future. I think as more people analyse, interpret and use this data, more interesting findings will follow.
We have already seen the success of collaboration between many exhibition industry associations. In the past three years, UFI has essentially doubled the research we produce and publish – on the global scale as well as for regional data, and on what we call ‘topical research’ like the Global Visitor and Global Exhibitor Studies we do jointly with Explori. We will continue to improve the reports we have developed so far, and continue to develop new ones. The next one is in the pipeline now, so watch this space!
Why was the research released now?
We have been working on this research for some months and wanted to publish it ahead of Global Exhibitions Day, which this year falls on Wednesday 5 June. It is a great opportunity for everyone involved in exhibitions around the world to come together and celebrate our industry, and having these top line global figures will hopefully help people move the needle.