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28.06.2017

AEFI ECONOMIC OBSERVATORY ON THE TRADE FAIR SECTOR

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the trend of the first quarter of 2017 confirms growth

The 32nd quarterly survey on trends in the trade fair sector conducted by the AEFI Economic Observatory for the January–March 2017 period confirms the trend of the previous quarter and indicates an overall situation of continuous improvement compared to the corresponding period in 2016.

The qualitative survey, which involved 25 AEFI-member Italian trade fair districts – through the positive and negative balances defined on the basis of responses from members who took part in the analysis – shows, also for the quarter considered, improvement in terms of exhibitors, visitors and rented space, with more than half of members interviewed reporting a favourable trend. This also translates into a positive balance in terms of trends in turnover, even if a static situation is still dominant.
The beginning of the recovery already outlined in previous months is also confirmed by the optimistic, though prudent, forecasts for the second quarter for all the indicators considered.

The number of exhibitions continues to grow. The balance of +20% is slightly lower with respect to the previous quarter, but of distinct significance compared to the same period last year (-16%).

The number of exhibitors is increasing constantly: 52% of the 25 members who took part in the survey reported an increase, with identical components for static situations and downturns (24% each).
The balance of +28% – the difference between those who foresee an increase and those who foresee a decrease – confirms the positive trend of the two previous quarters, and is an improvement compared to the beginning of 2016, when the balance was nil.
 

Analysis of where exhibitors came from shows a resurgence of Italians, with a balance of +24%, followed by other Europeans with a balance of +12%. Growth among visitors from outside the EU was less dynamic (balance +8%).
Consequent to the increase in the numbers of exhibitions and exhibitors is development in rented space: 52% of respondents record an increase. The balance of +32% is in line with the previous quarter (+31%), but a significant improvement on the same period the previous year (+8%).
The greatest contribution to the total rented space overall was made by Italian exhibitors, with a balance of +24%, followed by non-EU exhibitors with a balance of +12%. The balance of rented space by European exhibitors, on the other hand, is +8%.

The data on visitor intake was also positive: increasing for 52% of respondents, unvarying for 16% and decreasing for 32%. The balance, though distinctly positive at +20%, net of the static component, is lower both with respect to the end of 2016 (+42%) and compared to the same period last year (+24%).
With reference to the visitors’ origins, the figures highlight a uniform trend among Italians, Europeans and non-EU visitors: all three components returned a balance of +12%.

Finally, the trend in turnover marks, in the quarter considered, a balance of +24%: a lower figure compared to the previous quarter (+35%), but a marked improvement compared to the first quarter of 2016, when the balance was nil.

The forecasts for the second quarter are optimistic: most members report positive expectations above all for the number of exhibitors, with growth for 48% of the districts who took part in the survey and a balance of 36%, equal to that for the rented space. The sector’s confidence can also be seen in the positive balance (16%) indicated by the members involved concerning the number of exhibitions.
 

AEFI - Associazione Esposizioni e Fiere Italiane, a private non-profit Association, was established in 1983 with the goal of generating synergies between the most important Italian exhibition districts. AEFI would like to be seen as a privileged partner for operators and institutions alike, and its role is to support members through the development of activities and programmes in the sphere of training, marketing, promotion and research, as well as to provide services for trade fairs through the activities of its Committees: Exhibition Hub Technical Committee, Legal-Administrative Committee, Internationalisation Committee and Trade Fairs Network Committee.
On the internationalization front, AEFI supports members thanks to agreements with strategic markets. To date, partnerships have been agreed with Iran, Taiwan, Lebanon and India and a memorandum of understanding has been signed with AmCham, the American Chamber of Commerce in Italy.
AEFI has promoted the foundation of ISFCert, the Certification Institute for Exhibition Industry Statistics which, through rigorous methodologies, enables Italian organisers to present and recognise standardised data, in the name of transparency and reliability. AEFI represents Italian trade fairs in UFI - Union of International Fairs. Chaired by Ettore Riello, AEFI includes 35 member exhibition districts, which organise over 1,000 events a year over an overall exhibition area of 4.2 million square metres. 92% of international trade fairs, and 85% of all trade fairs which take place each year in Italy, are held in AEFI-member exhibition districts.
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