UFI’s invitation-only Global CEO Summit (GCS) took place Feb. 5–7 in Rome, bringing together 100 senior executives from international exhibition organizers and venue operators for what UFI, The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, calls the industry’s annual “curtain raiser.” The two days of sessions included expert speakers about the economy as well insights from research about the expectations and behavior of exhibitors and customers from around the world.
Also on the program on Feb. 7: A trip to the Vatican for a “a very special session” on the importance of exhibitions and the role they play in the economic development of countries, delivered by His Holiness Pope Francis. To get a private audience with the Pope is, of course, a big deal. But to get his blessing on the exhibition industry’s contribution “to a more just and humane global economy” — you couldn’t get a more ringing endorsement by a world leader of the important work business professionals do every day.
“In the case of your professional domain,” Pope Francis told the group, “it has been shown … that fairs and exhibitions not only have positive effects on regional economies and labor markets, but also offer significant opportunities for showcasing to the wider world the rich diversity and beauty of local cultures and ecosystems.”
Pope Francis touched on the role exhibitions can play in respecting local ecologies, and the value of its ability to establish a “network of human relations that can endure well beyond the event itself.” You can read his full address here.