Industry Impact

As the global association of the exhibition industry, UFI offers reliable data and insights for members and the wider industry to demonstrate the economic, social and environmental impacts of the exhibition industry.

Economic Impact

Exhibitions, also referred to as trade shows or fairs, have a simple purpose: bringing industries together to build community and create business opportunities. The global exhibition industry is of major economic importance. Exhibitions have developed into far more than booths displaying products: they have become marketplaces amplified by educational opportunities, innovation launches, and data-driven qualified lead retrieval opportunities, supported by social networking activities that unite valuable digital progress with the serendipity and magic of interpersonal connection.

In 2019, the direct impact of exhibitions globally was:

  • Number of exhibitions, visitors & exhibitors
  • In 2019, exhibitions directly involved nearly 353 million visitors and nearly five million exhibitors across more than 180 countries.
  • Direct spending (business sales)
  • Exhibitions generated more than €125.6 (US$140.7) billion of direct spending by visitors, exhibitors and additional exhibitions-related expenditures.
  • Direct GDP (gross domestic product) and employment
  • Exhibitions supported 1.4 million direct jobs globally and generated €73.5 (US$82.3) billion of direct GDP.
  • Based on approximately 4.8 million exhibitors worldwide and €125.6 (US$140.7) billion of direct spending, exhibitions generated approximately €26,400 (US$29,600) in direct spending per exhibitor on a global basis.
  • Based on its €73.5 (US$82.3) billion direct GDP impact, the exhibitions sector would rank as the 71st largest economy globally

After accounting for indirect and induced impacts, exhibitions supported a total global economic impact in 2019 of:

  • €298.7 (US$334.5) billion of total output (business sales)
  • 3.4 million total jobs
  • €179.3 (US$200.7) billion of GDP (representing contribution to global gross domestic product)

Based on a total economic impact of €298.7 (US$334.5) billion and a global total of 39.65 million sqm of capacity (as reported in the UFI World Map of Exhibition Venues 2022), total output per sqm of capacity amounted to approximately €7,500 (US$8,400) in 2019.

Global exhibitions directly generated more output (business sales) than many large global sectors, including machine tools and medical & surgical equipment.

For more details on the exhibition industry’s economic impact globally and nationally, download the Economic Impact Studies on the UFI Research page.

JMIC Global Manifesto: An Industry Rationale for the Use of Business Events as Key Drivers for Multidimensional Growth and Transformation 2nd edition | May 2023

A set of high-level positions on the value of business events in driving economic, social and environmental impact.

OECD Guides on Measuring the Impact of Sports, Culture, and Business Events | July 2023

A guide by the OECD on measuring the economic, social and environmental impact of sports, culture and business events.