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The global exhibition industry has contracted by 68%, according to UFI report

Compared to 2019
– €200 billion (USD 224 billion) of total exhibition-related output not generated, with 2.4 million jobs affected
– €330 billion (USD 370 billion) of business agreements between exhibition participants not generated

UFI, The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, has released an updated COVID-19 damage assessment for the global exhibition and trade show industry, which covers the whole of 2020.

Figures reveal that global industry revenues for 2020 dropped by 68%, compared to 2019. This result is based on regional data provided in the UFI Global Exhibition Barometer released last week, which indicates that 2020 revenues represented only 23% of those from 2019 in Central and South America, rising to 24% in the Middle East and Africa, 27% in the Asia-Pacific region, 32% in Europe and 36% in North America.

Exhibitions have a direct impact on various sectors in the regions where they are held – not just the exhibition industry (venues, organisers and service providers), but all related sectors, such as accommodation, restaurants and transport. Taking all of these sectors into account, it is estimated that a minimum of €200 billion (USD 224 billion) of total exhibition-related output was not generated in 2020, including €80 billion (USD 90 billion) in North America, €65 billion (USD 73 billion) in Europe and €46 billion (USD 52 billion) in the Asia-Pacific region.

This equates to 2.4 million full-time jobs affected globally.

Exhibiting companies use face-to-face events to generate contacts that lead to business, either at or soon after the event, and the non-tenure of most exhibitions in 2020 has led to an estimated €330 billion (USD 370 billion) of business volume affected. While a small fraction of that loss may have been compensated for specific sectors, with the development of purely digital solutions, the net impact remains very high.

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the exhibition industry, as well as those sectors who benefit from face-to-face events. 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 

Kai Hattendorf, UFI Managing Director and CEO

The 26th UFI Global Barometer survey, released on 26 January 2021, can be accessed at In line with UFI’s objective to provide vital data and best practices to the entire exhibition industry, it is available for free.