Trade Fair Review: A significant increase compared to the previous year

The German trade fair industry has put the coronavirus crisis behind. For 2023 on the whole, the industry recorded more than just one significant increase in comparison to 2022. This is the finding of a current survey conducted by the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry, AUMA. The vast majority of industry trade fairs celebrated their post-coronavirus comeback with great success. Almost 320 trade fairs took place in 2023.

Around 183,000 companies exhibited at the 70 exhibition venues in Germany in 2023. This amounts to an increase of 30 per cent compared to 2022. All the trade fairs together attracted around 11.4 million visitors, an increase of more than 3.8 million (+ 50 per cent) versus 2022. Occupied exhibition space increased from 5.7 to 6.34 million square metres (+ 11 per cent).

Roughly two dozen trade fairs celebrated their first openings in 2023. Topics addressed included the construction and energy industries, with a focus on sustainability and digitalisation, and hospitality. There were no trade fairs that continued to run 100 per cent digitally.

At the 166 outstanding trade fairs with international or national significance held in Germany, 147,000 exhibiting companies gathered   7.5 million visitors. Leading international or national trade fairs held here in Germany accounted for 5.2 million square metres of the total of 6.34 million square metres of exhibition space occupied.

International stakeholders returned to trade fair venue Germany, with an impressively large presence. There were 96,000 exhibiting companies that travelled from abroad; the figure for 2022 was at least one third less. Following the coronavirus-related postponements over the previous two years, China reclaimed the top spot among the exhibiting nations with a share of more than 15 per cent, having achieved the same feat in 2019 (14 per cent). The second most-represented exhibiting country was Italy (12 per cent), ahead of Turkey (5.2 per cent), which joined the leaders’ group for the first time.

Outlook for 2024

More than 200 trade fairs will take place in the first half of the year. These include flagship events such as the International Aerospace Exhibition, ILA, in Berlin (5 – 9 June), and the Leading Trade Fair for Print technology, drupa, in Düsseldorf (28 May – 7 June). An event that occurs only every four years, drupa last took place in 2016 on account of the pandemic, and now becomes one of the last trade fairs to return to its former rhythm. In total, more than 330 trade fairs are planned for 2024.

A first glance at the AUMA survey also indicates that almost 50 per cent of trade fair organisers within the association hope to further consolidate their international leading trade fairs in Germany. Over 35 per cent want to expand their business abroad. Three quarters believe that, in terms of international competition, German trade fairs will develop on a par with or better than the competition within the next twelve months. For the vast majority of German trade fairs, the competition is based in Germany itself or within the European Union. Other important competitive markets are North America, South, East and Central Asia, and the Near and Middle East. The entire study will be published in summer.