“The Italian exhibitions industry consists of 190 companies with an overall workforce of 3700, and has an annual turnover of 1.4 billion euro. It is an extraordinary vehicle for growing the Made in Italy brand, which however is still far from reaching its full potential globally, with Italian companies on average registering less than 10% of their turnover abroad; the challenge, even in the medium term, is thus to develop a tool which can support the growth of leading exhibitions in an international setting.” The President of Aefi (Associazione esposizioni e fiere Italiane – Italian Exhibition and Trade Fair Association), Maurizio Danese, called for the internationalisation of the industry today at the Temple of Hadrian, Rome, on the occasion of Global Exhibitions Day and the 40th anniversary celebrations of the Association itself.

He based his remarks on a study concluded by Roland Berger for Aefi, presented to the industry today in the presence of the Minister for Tourism, Daniela Santanchè. The study, which sets out a strategy for the Association and for consideration by the industry’s leading players as well as public authorities, launches its formula for internationalisation with today’s “Call to Action”. The next steps involve registering exhibition centres and the major exhibitions on the Club Deal platform, developing an agreed programme consisting of strategic links and matching events with their target countries, quantifying their economic impacts and the necessary investments – including acquisition – and working together with public authorities (government ministries, Ice, Simest and others).

The Club Deal platform, according to the Aefi/Roland Berger study, will be open to all leading international exhibitions of the Italian brand, with two purposes: to further support growth in exports, and to consolidate the presence of the fourth largest exhibitions industry in the world, thanks in part to financial support for the Made in Italy brand. This unified system will be coordinated and agreed upon by all players, who will be free to join projects – including common ones, targeted at particular value chains – as they wish and in relation to their own investment requirements.

“The aim,” Danese said in conclusion, “is to provide an umbrella organisation for our companies worldwide, and to fill in the international gaps in our system so that we can achieve the same results as France and Germany, whose foreign exhibitions account for almost 30% of their overall turnover.”

According to Francesco Calvi Parisetti, partner of Roland Berger Italia: “The exhibitions industry is a system which provides Italian businesses with a low cost tool for presenting their goods and services to foreign markets, thanks to the leading international events organised in Italy. While it is clear that we must continue to support and grow exhibitions at home, it is also essential that we reinforce the presence of our businesses in foreign markets with events abroad. Exhibitions must become an ever more powerful lever in the country’s industrial politics, to grow the value of our excellent Made in Italy supply chains. It is therefore essential that we lose no more ground to our competitor countries, and make every effort to shrink the gap between us with coordinated, systematic action.”

Aefi represents the interests of the Italian exhibitions industry, with 50 associate members and 42 exhibition districts hosting over 1000 events a year on exhibition grounds amounting to 4.2 million sq.m., as well as 10 exhibition organisers.