Global growth for the exhibition industry despite rising uncertainty in regional market

19 July, 2016


The 17th Global Barometer survey for the first half of 2016 was released today by UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry; it reports that, on average, the exhibition industry expects continued growth in turnover for the coming year. However, a significant level of uncertainty is forecast for the first half of 2017 in Asia, Middle East and Africa. Sixty percent of companies surveyed have also introduced additional security measures at their events in the past months.

Conducted in June 2016, UFI’s study was answered by 262 companies from 56 countries. The outlook remains positive with the majority of companies across all regions declaring turnover increases since 2011. In South Africa, 3 to 4 companies out of 10 have uncertainty as to their turnover for the first half of 2017, whereas for 2016, 63% expect an increase in profits during the second half of the year. While operating costs compared to the previous year remained stable.

The "State of the economy in home market", "Global economic developments", "Competition from within the industry” and "internal challenges”, respectively were considered the four most important business issues globally. Where “Human resources” was found to be the most important aspect of the internal challenges. The study also indicated that Venues, Organisers and Service providers identified the "State of the economy in home market" as their biggest issue.

While 6 out of 10 companies on average have expanded their security measures at exhibitions and venues globally in response to terrorist attacks, 58% of the Middle East and Africa have added no additional measures with South Africa indicating 89% of companies have not added additional security measures. Some of the additional measures include additional screening at event/venue entrances for visitors (28%), for exhibitors (15%), additional controls on site during the event (25%), additional information for attendees (21%).

The survey also indicated that Europe, UK - at the time of the survey, before the EU referendum - was expecting to perform in a positive way similar to North America, with more than 8 companies out of 10 expecting an increase in turnover for 2016 and the first half of 2017. Good perspectives also appeared in several European markets. In Germany however, less than 50% of the survey participants anticipate a growth for the first half of 2017 compared to a cyclically strong 2016.

The next UFI Global Barometer Survey will be conducted in December 2016.


The complete results of the 17th UFI Global Exhibition Barometer can be downloaded at 

The “Crisis Barometer” was developed by UFI, at the beginning of 2009, to assess the impact of the economic decline based on the perceptions of their members. Today, this survey has become the exhibition industry’s Global Barometer bi-annual report drawing on input from UFI members in 83 countries. It includes identical surveys for South Africa conducted by EXSA, the Exhibition and Events Association of Southern Africa, for the USA conducted by SISO (Society of Independent Show Organizers), for Central and South America by AFIDA (Asociación International de Ferias de America) of their respective members.

EXSA’s General Manager, Phumulani Hlatshwayo, concludes; “UFI’s Crisis Barometer is a vital tool that helps inform the areas of focus where the industry is concerned. For example, the above data indicates that despite the global concern for the state of the economy, the exhibition industry remains dynamic and is confident for the remainder of 2016. Also, more focus needs to be placed on security during exhibitions. With this info, informed decisions can be made by the industry players.”