South Africa has been ranked 26th in the world for gross indoor exhibition space, according to the 2011 UFI report 2011 World Map of Exhibition Venues. South Africa has approximately 180 000m of indoor exhibition space. EXSA analysed the report with regards to South Africa.
UFIs first objective was to identify venues with a minimum of 5 000m of Gross Indoor Exhibition Space. 2011 identified 1 197 venues that qualify for the report. Africa met the criteria for 25 venues, totalling half a million m of exhibition space available in Africa. A third of all the exhibition space available in Africa is located here in South Africa spread over 8 of our biggest venues. There are quite a few other venues with less than 5 000m within Southern Africa reported EXSAs GM Sue Gannon, which were not taken into account for the UFI report.

The top four countries with the largest Gross Indoor Exhibition Space are:

1. USA 6.7 million m
2. China 4.7 million m
3. Germany 3.3 million m
4. Italy 2.2 million m
Interesting facts from a local perspective are as follows:

South Africas total National Gross Indoor Exhibition Space is less than each of the individual top twenty international venues.
This includes spaces such as Messe Hannover (466 100m), Messe Frankfurt (345 697m), Fiera Milano (345 000m) and the Chinese Export and Import Commodities Fairground (338 000m)

Each of the top 55 international venues is at least 100% bigger than South Africas largest venue.
South Africas largest venue is Johannesburg Expo Centre, followed closely by the Tshwane Event Centre.
The UFI report also stated that there has been no growth in available indoor space for Africa since 2006. Europe monitored a 7% growth, North America a 5% growth, while Asia reported a staggering 38% growth. The report concluded that the growth of the venue space is conclusive evidence that the exhibition industry is strong and continuing to grow at a phenomenal rate. I would agree especially with the ICC Durban recently expanding their exhibition halls continued Sue and the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) is about to embark on doubling their exhibition space.

EXSA, through their Venue Forum, have implemented research on the exhibition venues in Southern Africa. The first phase was to record the actual gross indoor exhibition space in the country. The second phase, which will be rolling out shortly, is aimed at the actual occupancy of the venues.
Nigel Walker, the EXSA chair, stated: EXSA recognises the importance of industry-related and focused market research. As an Association we are encouraging the participation in such research and we are constantly exploring opportunities to measure the size of the exhibition industry in Southern Africa and, indeed, Africa.