For the first time, the total global economic impact of exhibitions has been calculated. With a total output of €275 ($325) billion in business sales annually, the sector is on a par with sectors such as machine tools or medical and surgical equipment. UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, worked with Oxford Economics to produce the ‘Global Economic Impact of Exhibitions’ report, which was also supported by SISO (Society of Independent Show Organisers).
The report shows the far-reaching impact of the exhibition sector, which generates €68.7 ($81.1) billion in direct GDP and contributes a total economic impact of €275 ($325) billion. Interestingly this ranks the sector as the 56th largest economy in the world, larger than those of countries such as Hungary, Kuwait, Sri Lanka, and Ecuador.
In 2018, approximately 32,000 exhibitions directly involved 303 million visitors and over 4.5 million exhibitors across more than 180 countries. The total impact of €167 (US$198) billion in global GDP includes the direct spending and jobs that are specifically involved in planning and producing exhibitions, and for participants and exhibitors to travel to exhibitions, as well as other exhibition-related spending.
Europe was the largest market in terms of visitors, welcoming 112 million in 2018. This represents 37% of global exhibition visitors in 2018. North America ranked second, with 91 million visitors, followed by the Asia-Pacific with nearly 82 million visitors.
In terms of total GDP, North America ranked first with over €78.2 ($92.3) billion of total GDP attributable to the exhibitions sector. This accounts for nearly 47% of the sector’s global impact. Europe followed with €48.6 ($57.3) billion of total GDP, representing 29% of the sector’s global impact.
Global Exhibitions Day
The research was timed to provide the data during the run-up to Global Exhibitions Day 2019 on 5 June. Around the world exhibition industry professionals, including Symbiosis, are organising events and activities to highlight the critical role the industry plays in driving and fostering the growth of regional, national and international economies.
How to access the full report
In line with UFI’s mission to provide vital data to the entire exhibitions industry, the full ‘Global Economic Impact of Exhibitions’ report is available free of charge on the UFI website .