UFI/BSG report shows Asia exhibition market rebounding, yet dropped 87% in terms of space sold over period 2019-2022

A new UFI/BSG report on the trade fair industry in Asia compares regional markets in 2022, when Covid was still affecting many Asian markets, with 2019 and finds that space sold dropped by 87% to approximately 3.2m. sqm over the period. The massive drop is attributed to China’s restrictive Covid-zero policy. The report goes on to highlight that most of Asia is showing strong recovery throughout 2023.

The data comes from UFI 18th annual edition of the report on the Trade Fair Industry in Asia, published again after the global pandemic. The report provides a detailed overview of the performance in 2022 of 17 exhibition markets in Asia, as well as insight and commentary into the scale of the recovery in 2023 and looks ahead to 2024.

Year-on-year comparisons have been rendered somewhat meaningless due to the global pandemic, so this new edition of the report compares the performance of 2022 to 2019. It is important to note that during Covid, BSG’s bottom-up approach to estimates of net space sold was challenged by a dynamic and rapidly changing trading environment, as well as by the limited availability of accurate data during various lockdowns across the region. Despite these unique circumstances, the report provides reliable insight into the state of the Asian trade fair market in 2022.

Net space sold in most of the trade fair markets fell by 60% to 70% in 2022 vs 2019. This includes much of Southeast Asia and some of the larger trade fair markets such as Japan, India, and Korea.

China, which accounted for 60% of the region’s net space sold in 2019, was closed for all of 2022. As a result, more than 14 m. sqm was effectively removed from the market.

Hong Kong and Macau largely followed Beijing’s lead and net square metres sold in both of those two markets were down approximately 90% compared to the 2019 figures. Taiwan managed a modestly better performance with a more than 70% drop.

The good news is that all of the key exhibition markets have recorded a remarkable recovery in 2023. China, Japan, India, South Korea and Hong Kong account for more than 80% of net space sold in the region and all are expected to match or surpass net space sold in 2023 when compared to 2019 levels. And more growth is forecasted for 2024.

UFI Asia/Pacific Regional Manager and BSG managing director, Mark Cochrane, noted: “In 2022, the US and European exhibition markets had begun to move on from Covid, but in Asia many of the restrictions and challenges remained. In fact, China’s exhibition industry was non-existent in 2022. As a result, net square metres sold were at the lowest levels since this report was launched in 2004. The good news is that in 2023, the industry has rebounded much faster than expected.”

Kai Hattendorf, UFI managing director and CEO, commented: “The recovery that we have seen in Asia in 2023 is nothing short of remarkable. It demonstrates the resilience of our industry and the irreplaceable value of face-to-face interactions. This report is a valuable resource not only for its proprietary statistics and figures, but also for the insight it provides into the trends and challenges that will shape the Asian exhibition industry in 2024 and beyond.”

The report provides detailed information on the development of trade fairs and supporting facilities in 17 markets: Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam. The report also includes an analysis of actual market performance in 2022, as well as an industry outlook for the months ahead, including commentary on key trends in each market.

The research was undertaken for UFI by Business Strategies Group (BSG) in Hong Kong.

As a value-added service, each UFI member is entitled to receive an executive summary of the research and to purchase the full report at a substantial discount. The data is available on the UFI research portal at www.ufi.org/research.