Exhibition professionals around the world celebrated in record numbers June 5, the fourth annual Global Exhibitions Day, which highlights how the exhibitions industry generates $325 billion in total output globally and contributes $198 billion to worldwide gross domestic product.
The event not only underscored the industry’s role as a driver of economic growth, but also established GED19 as the biggest day of advocacy for the exhibition world so far, with an estimated 90 countries taking part, according to preliminary data from UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, which spearheads the event.
“Support for Global Exhibitions Day continues to rise,” Kai Hattendorf, UFI managing director and CEO, told Convene via email. “We started with 62 countries and regions in 2016; this year it looks like we will reach around 90 up yet again from 85 last year.”
Hattendorf said 41 industry associations from the global UFI network helped the organization pull off the initiative for a fourth time. “Countless” organizers, venues, and service providers planned on executing their own initiatives, he said, but since GED19 continues through noon London time June 6, more complete participation data is not yet available.
This year’s event focused on four key areas:
- Exhibitions are a large global industry.
- Exhibitions are an effective and sustainable way of doing business.
- Exhibitions can contribute to a sustainable world.
- The exhibition industry offers a variety of job opportunities.
Some groups posted selfies with a GED sign on social media channels, but over the years, the GED activities and projects have become “increasingly sophisticated and tailored to stakeholder groups,” Hattendorf told Convene. “Many partners break these messages down for their national markets with their own local data.”
As part of GED19, UFI published “The Exhibitions Industry and UN SDGs,” a new report on initiatives that support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, sharing 20 best practice cases from around the world.
Hattendorf provided a rundown of some of the ways organizations around the world observed GED19:
- In the U.S., the Exhibitions Mean Business campaign, led by the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), hosted the 6th annual Exhibitions Day in Washington D.C., focusing on advocacy meetings with federal lawmakers and legislation that affects the exhibitions industry in the U.S.
- The Indian Exhibition Industry Association (IEIA) organized events such as a cleanliness drive (picking up litter) in Mumbai, the distribution of clothes and food to an orphanage in Jaipur, GED India awards, and a delegation meeting to discuss an advocacy campaign for the exhibition industry.
- The Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA) held a Leaders Forum and Conference and Global Exhibitions Day dinner in Melbourne, Australia. The event focused on improving the environmental sustainability of business events and promoting careers in the sector.
- The Association of African Exhibition Organisers (AAXO) and the Exhibition & Event Association of Southern Africa (EXSA) arranged an exhibition quiz and networking event.
- The IranInternational Exhibitions Company (IIEC) organized a ceremony with 300 industry guests.
- Zagreb Fair in Croatia hosted an international conference titled “Exhibition Industry — Disruptor or Disruptee?” The goals of the event included revealing the impact of trade fairs on economies, exploiting the potential of the industry, and sharing knowledge and insights.
- The ItalianExhibition and Trade Fair Association (AEFI) held a conference, “Cooperation and Sustainability: Change Drivers for Italian Fai”
- Messe Frankfurt Argentina, together with the Argentina Congress Organizers Association (AOCA), hosted an event to present results of the groups’ “Barometer of Economic Impact of the Industry.”
For a more complete look at GED19, go to the UFI website.
RELATED: What’s the economic significance of exhibitions worldwide? Earlier this year, UFI worked with Oxford Economics to produce the “Global Economic Impact of Exhibitions” report.
Curt Wagner is a Convene associate editor.