UFI reports COVID-19 has cost €134.2bn of orders at shows

Global association for the exhibition industry UFI has, 20 March, updated its global assessment of the escalating economic impact that Covid-19 is having on tradeshows and exhibitions:

The headlines from UFI’s latest update show that at least €134bn (US$145bn) of contracts were not concluded as events have not taken place as planned through Q2 2020. UFI noted also that €81.6bn of total economic output would not now be generated related to the exhibition industry by the end of Q2.

The association’s updated global numbers reflect the impact that tradeshow postponements and cancellations are having for both the exhibiting companies as well as for the tradeshow industry around the world.

The €134.2bn worth of orders not secured at shows to the end of the second quarter of 2020 represents an increase of almost five times the figure reported by UFI in its previous week’s report (€23bn). That report took into account cancellations only up to the end of the current quarter.

“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.

The €81.6bn of total economic output not generated by the end of Q2 is broken down into regions. That respective total economic impact that will not be generated is, respectively:

- €21.8bn and 378,000 FTE jobs for Asia/Pacific

- €28.8bn and 257,000 FTE jobs for Europe

- €29.2bn and 320,000 FTE jobs for North America.

The backbone of the exhibitions industry are many micro and small enterprises, and the lack of business is putting these at immediate risk of bankruptcy, the report notes.

UFI says it is working with many national associations to help secure government and regional support for the companies that are badly affected and notes that, 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. No stranger to adaptation, exhibition venues around the world are meanwhile offering their support to the respective health sectors. “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”, says Hattendorf.


UFI directly represents more than 50,000 exhibition industry employees globally, and also works closely with its 60 national and regional association members. More than 800 member organisations in 89 countries around the world are presently signed up as members.