Global exhibition revenues to reach 71% of 2019 levels this year: UFI

Globally, the industry expects two-thirds of markets to operate at normal levels in 2H2022

The exhibitions industry is on track to accelerate its recovery, driven by more physical exhibitions and business events taking place this year, according to UFI’s latest edition of the Global Barometer research.

In terms of operations, the proportion of companies declaring “normal activity” has increased from less than two in 10, in July 2021, to around four in 10, between October 2021 and February 2022. This looks set to increase to around six in 10 companies expecting normal activity levels from March 2022. Subsequently, the proportion of companies expecting “no activity” dropped from 34% to 16% during 2H2021, and only 4-5% of companies expect no activity from March 2022.

Globally, the industry expects two-thirds of markets to operate at normal levels in 2H2022

The results vary depending on location, and are primarily driven by confirmed or expected “reopening dates” for exhibitions.

When asked what elements would most help towards the “bounce-back” of exhibitions, seven in 10 companies selected “Lifting of current travel restrictions”, while five in 10 selected “Readiness of exhibiting companies and visitors to participate again”, “Mid-term visibility in terms of public policies, including travel restrictions” and “Lifting of current public policies that apply locally to exhibitions”.

Overall, 53% of companies received no public financial support, and for the majority of those who did, financial public aid represented less than 10% of their overall costs.

In line with results from the previous edition of the Barometer, released in the summer of 2021, Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the business remains the most pressing business issue – although this has dropped to 19% of respondents, from 29%, six months ago. There has also been a shift in the second and third most pressing issues, with “Internal management challenges” (19% of respondents, compared to 9%, six months ago) and “Impact of digitalisation” (16%, compared to 10%, six months ago) forming the top three. “Competition with other media” is now the fourth most pressing issue (14%, compared to 5%, six months ago) while “State of the economy in home market” drops to fifth spot (12%), from being the second most pressing issue just six months ago (19% of respondents).

The three components of “Internal management challenges” are all almost equally represented within the responses: “Human resources” (56% of respondents), “Business model adjustments” (54%) and “Finance” (48%).

In relation to future exhibition formats, the global results indicate that 80% of respondents (up from 78%, six months ago, and 64%, 12 months ago) agree that “COVID-19 confirms the value of face-to-face events”, and anticipate the sector to bounce back quickly (with 38% stating “Yes, for sure” and 42% stating “Most probably”). Meanwhile,13% of respondents are unsure.

“The sun is finally rising at the end of a long, dark pandemic,” says Kai Hattendorf, managing director and CEO at UFI. “The perspectives for 2022 are brighter and continue to improve quickly. As the industry bounces back, the key issues now facing companies are around internal management issues and the impact of digitisation. As the value of physical events is constantly reinforced, we are well on track to achieve pre-pandemic levels of activity.”

This latest edition of UFI’s bi-annual industry survey was concluded in January 2022 and includes data from 401 companies in 53 countries and regions. The full results can be downloaded at

The next UFI Global Barometer survey will be conducted in June 2022.

Sponsored Post