On 20 March 2020, UFI, The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, released updated figures that reflect the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the global exhibition industry.

Travel restrictions and bans on meetings and events have resulted in wide spread cancellations and postponements across the industry. UFI’s data reveals the orders that exhibiting companies will no longer secure total USD 144.9 billion (roughly R2,556.5 billion) globally, projecting to the end of the second quarter of 2020. This is almost 5 times more than the estimated forecast reported last week which only took into account cancellations up to the end of the current quarter.

“UFI’s data reveals the orders that exhibiting companies will no longer secure total roughly R2,556.5 billion globally.”

“Right now, the marketplaces that industries rely on to trade are closed around the world. This is unprecedented. Mass closures of events in relation to COVID-19 have now also reached North and South America, meaning the entire global exhibitions and events industry is grinding to a halt”, says Kai Hattendorf, UFI Managing Director / CEO.

An additional USD 88.2 billion (R 1,556 billion) of total economic output will not be generated by the end of Q2, in relation to the exhibition industry.

“We call on every government to secure the future of our sector through imminent subsidy and credit programmes.”

UFI highlights that the backbone of the exhibition industry is largely comprised of micro and small enterprises, and the lack of business is putting these at immediate risk of bankruptcy. As the industry’s global trade association, UFI is working with many national associations to help secure government and regional support for the companies that are most affected. From Hong Kong to Denmark, there have been several examples already of economic relief for our industry.

“We call on every government to secure the future of our sector through imminent subsidy and credit programmes. Their investments now will pay off extremely well. We will build and operate the marketplaces and meeting places for all the sectors and industries to meet and do business after the pandemic – our industry provides the fastest of all fast tracks to any economic recovery,” says Hattendorf.

“It is always humbling to see how our industry comes together in difficult times.”

Meanwhile exhibition venues around the world are offering their support to the respective health sectors. Hattendorf says, “Many of our members are supporting the emergency response to the crisis in their respective cities, building temporary shelters and installing beds in case local hospitals are unable to cope with demand. It is always humbling to see how our industry comes together in difficult times.”