An overview of global exhibition space in 20173 min read

The UFI, Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, has produced its latest report on the global market for trade fairs and conferences covering the development of available exhibition space. While the previous report of the UFI Global Exhibition Barometer (which we spoke about in this article) gave a qualitative view of the sector, here we have a more quantitative approach which reveals the state of the world market for trade fairs and conferences.


UFI gathered these results from 19 regional sectoral associations which cover virtually most of the world taking into account significant venues with more than 5000 square metres exhibition space.


These results may be compared to the last similar study carried out previously in 2011, 6 years ago.


The steady amount of capacity available worldwide


Taking the sector as a whole into account, available capacity for trade fairs and conferences around the world  remained steady between  2011 and 201. Global capacity has slightly increased  from 32.3 million sq meters to 34,6 million, an annual increase of 1% whereas the number of venues has hardly changed rising from 1,195 in 2011 to 1,212 in 2017.



Venues have increased in size, this has been confirmed by the figures since the number of venues with more than 100,000 square metres of exhibition space increased by 27 % in today’s figures 61 as against 48 in 2011. This type of  venue represents an exceptional amount of available capacity (more than 20 football stadiums put together) for expanding international trade fairs, moreover it only represents 5% of the total of all venues.


As for the rest, one third of venues have 20,000 to 100,000 square metres of exhibition space and a large majority of these (61%) are under 20,000 square metres.



An overall view which conceals marked development between the regions


Global figures show quite a stable sector, but looking at regional development it is noticeable that much has changed since 2011. What is most remarkable is that the Asia has overtaken North America in terms of available capacity which puts it in second position amongst the most attractive regions after Europe.



So Asia has experienced an exceptional increase of +24,4% from 6.6 million of square metres of exhibition space million to  8.2 million. It just overtakes North America by a fraction of a point  with 23.7 % compared to 23.6 %.


For its part the old continent of Europe retains its place as leader with 45% of exhibition space in the world even if its market share has slightly fallen by 2 points. Elsewhere, apart from South America which has completely stagnated because fewer venues became operational, the other regions show an increase in capacity,



In conclusion, it’s been established that the amount of trade fair venues worldwide is steadily increasing in the long term, which is a very positive indicator for the market. Event organisers are offered more and more space with increasingly important venues.


At regional level, although Europe is by far the largest market (45% of exhibition space), there is much growth happening in Asia. Over 6 years of investment has resulted in more than 1.6 million sqm becoming available in exhibition space. This tallies with the strong market growth on the continent and the demand for exhibition space exploding over these last 4 years with an annual increase of more than 5%.


Today Asia is the most dynamic trade fair market thanks to innovative development models predominantly carried out by the Chinese as was discussed in another article (Asia, the new El Dorado for the exhibition industry).


If the global exhibition industry interests you, check out Tradefest, an innovative digital platform for trade fairs and conferences. Users can leave reviews on the events which they have attended, and benefit from personalised industry specific recommendations on which events to attend based on their profile. Visit out website and see for yourself 🙂