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Coronavirus Effect: Postpone but do not cancel events

Coronavirus Effect: Postpone but do not cancel events
Coronavirus Effect discussed at UFI meeting

In the MICE industry, Italy and Rome have the right recipe for success: when the goal is Rome – it was said among other things in a press conference – the adhesions to the events exceed the average of the other capitals by 20%. But what do leaders think of the coronavirus effect on the industry?

Rome is a silent power for economic development. Both Rome and Lazio have unique characteristics. In particular, Rome is not only welcoming and exciting, but it actually improves the results of events held there. This is what Mary Larkin, UFI president, the global association of the trade fair industry said. UFI held its Global CEO Summit in Rome for a limited number of 100 men and women at the top of the top companies from 37 countries which ended today, February 7, 2020.

“If Europe is the most international market for world fairs, Italy,” said Larkin, “is certainly an essential component, and I am sure that following our event in Rome, which brings together the most influential decision-makers of the system world fair, it will be a useful moment of comparison and sharing of strategies to maintain high sector performances.”

Larkin has not hidden the concerns about the coronavirus effect that will inevitably affect the tourism and trade fair sector, but the orientation of the Chinese organizers, she said, is to postpone and not cancel trade fair events that were scheduled for February and March.

“The exhibition flywheel does not lose its power despite the digital revolution and virtual relationships,” said Pietro Piccinetti, sole admin and GM of Fiera Roma. “The figures confirm this: in 2018 over 4.5 million companies took part in fairs around the world for a total of 303 million visitors (only in Europe the participants were 112 million and about 1.3 million exhibitors), for an economic impact estimated at around 275 billion euros, contributing approximately 167 billion to world GDP.

These are the numbers disclosed by the top management of UFI, which alone represents around 800 organizers from 86 countries around the world. Fairs create jobs, generate business, and are the ideal marketplace to create connections and generate wealth.

Kai Hattendorf A.D., UFI, thinks: “The choice of Rome derives from the strong ties between Italy and the UFI, as demonstrated by our 2015 world congress held in Milan. Today then, your country relives a fair-congress ‘Renaissance’ that bodes well for the future.”

Onorio Rebecchini, president of the Convention Bureau in Rome, said: “I believe that we have already demonstrated our know-how in organizing. From 2017 to today, the sector has generated events for 15 million euros in sales on the territory, with positive effects on all related industries. We still have a lot of potentials to express and translate into concrete contributions to the tourist-accommodation chain.”

“UFI is an event that makes us proud,” said Pietro Piccinetti, the sole administrator and general manager of Fiera Roma, “because it is proof of the strong appeal that Rome can boast in the meeting industry and in the exhibition sector in general and know-how.”

Italy benefits from this. Currently, the Italian exhibition industry has 43 exhibition poles of 2.3 million square meters of exhibition space, which have hosted 913 events, of which over 200 of international appeal, with around 200,000 exhibitors and a total of 22 million visitors, of which 13 million for international events, generating a turnover of around 60 billion euros, giving rise to almost 50% of exports.

With these numbers, Italy firmly occupies the fourth position in the ranking of the countries where fairs are held, after the USA, China, and Germany.

300 million visitors for 4.5 million businesses

The latest statistics for 2018 show that 32,000 fairs are held worldwide with 4.5 million exhibiting companies that meet over 300 million visitors in approximately 1,200 structures, counting only those with at least 5,000 square meters of exhibition space.

It is an industry that generates 3.2 million jobs, both direct and indirect, with exhibitors and visitors spending a total of 116 billion euros. Europe is the leading region for trade fairs, with 1.3 million exhibitors in 2019 and 112 million visitors and exhibition spaces covering almost 16 million square meters in 499 locations.

“Italy emerges in the world of trade fairs – said Kay Hattendorf – for our summit we immediately had excellent support from the institutions”. So the UFI Global Ceo Summit brought 100 specialists from all over the world to Rome, including organizers and managers of structures, all by invitation and for a fee. A return in fact, because UFI, The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, was born in Rome in 1995. It currently represents over 800 organizations and companies from 86 countries and has its own brand in a thousand fairs.

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