The 24th quarterly survey on trends in the trade fair sector conducted by the AEFI Economic Observatory for the January-March 2015 period points to a positive outlook, improving significantly compared to the corresponding period last year, confirming the recovery of the sector thanks to the ability of trade fairs to face economic difficulties

The survey, which involved 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, highlights a positive trend for all the indicators considered: number of exhibitions, total exhibitors, exhibition space taken, total visitors and total turnover.

The number of exhibitions is constantly rising (41.66% hosted more exhibitions and 41.69% recorded a stable figure, highlighting the resilience of the system) with an extremely positive balance of +25% compared to the +8% of the first quarter of 2014, despite a slight decrease with respect to the last quarter of last year, when the balance was around +35%.

The positive trend in the number of exhibitors is confirmed, with a balance of +38% recorded from the members’ responses, less than during the previous quarter, yet decidedly on the rise, more than triple that of the same quarter last year, which was around +12%.
The cross-section of where exhibitors came from is interesting, showing a good performance from Italians, with a balance of +33%, as well as from non-EU foreigners, with a balance of +13%.

Half of the respondents also indicated a rise in exhibition space taken, with a balance of +25% which, despite being slightly less than that of the previous quarter, is still a clear improvement when compared to the same quarter last year, when the balance was just +4%.

The data on visitor intake was especially encouraging: increasing for 62.49% of members involved in the survey, unvarying for 29.19% and decreasing for just 8.32%. The balance of +54% confirms the positive dynamic of the previous quarter (+31%). The analysis of visitors highlights an increase in Italians, with a balance of +50%, followed by Europeans (balance +37%) and non-Europeans, who record a positive balance of 29%.

Lastly, demonstrating that the sector is dynamic and recovering is the positive development of turnover, which in the quarter under consideration recorded a balance of +21%, increasing with respect to the previous quarter (+12%) but most of all especially important when compared with the same quarter in 2014, when the balance was just +4%.

“The data for the first quarter highlight a dynamic sector and confirm the ability of trade fairs to face economic challenges with determination and optimism. Thanks to EXPO 2015, to the support of the Ministry for Economic Development with the Special Made in Italy Plan, to the constant dialogue with Institutions and to all the activities which like AEFI we have implemented to support members, we can look to future months with continuing confidence” – comments Ettore Riello, AEFI Chairman.

AEFI – the Italian Exhibition and Trade Fair Association – was set up in 1983 with a view to generating synergies between the most significant Italian exhibition districts. Specifically, 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: the Exhibition Hub Technical Committee, the Administrative-Legal Committee, the Trade Fairs Network Committee, the IT and Technical Innovation Committee, and the new Initiatives and Programmes Committee.
On an international scale, AEFI represents Italian trade fairs in UFI-Union des Foires Internationales. Chaired by Ettore Riello, AEFI includes 34 member exhibition districts, which organise over 1,000 events a year over an overall exhibition area of 4.2 million square metres. Most international trade fairs, and 85% of all trade fairs, which take place each year in Italy, are held in AEFI-member exhibition districts.