In 2018 there were 4.5 milion companies taking part at exhibitions worldwide with a total of 303 million people attending these events as visitors. These events generated an economic impact of 275 billion euros and they contributed 167.2 billion euros to the world’s GDP. Rome has managed to host, thanks to Convention Bureau Roma and Lazio and Fiera Roma, the leaders of this industry to develop the best potential of the sector.

From 5 to 7 February 2020 in Rome there is the UFI Global Ceo Summit, an event of great attention for Rome and Italy, because CEOs and presidents of the most important companies that organize exhibitions all around the world converge in our country. While they attend the summit, these 100 industry leaders will also see how the Capital, its territory and the country, can be an ideal destination for the business events.

Strategies and opportunities will be guided at the UFI Global Ceo Summit, which will inspire trends and anticipate long-term objectives for the sector worldwide.

The UFI Global Ceo Summit will take place in Rome, at the Palazzo Naiadi Hotel, and  delegates will have their Gala dinner at Palazzo Colonna, in the amazing Galleria del Cardinale, hosted by the Convention Bureau Roma and Lazio and Fiera Roma.

UFI, The Global Association of Exhibition Industry represents more than 800 organizations. The association has members in 86 countries. Around 1,000 international trade shows proudly bear the UFI approved brand, synonymous for visitors and exhibitors of guarantee and quality. The association is constantly engaged in industry analysis and produces accurate research through which we can get a picture of the situation in the industry.

“As UFI, we represent and serve the global exhibition industry. Every year, our industry enables 275 Billion Euros in business sales around the world. In total, more than 3.2 million people are working for exhibitions. At the beginning of each year, UFI brings together the global leaders of this industry for the Global CEO Summit, our most prestigious event”, says Mary Larkin, UFI President.

“To this day, Europe is and remains the most international market for global exhibitions, and Italy is one of the core European markets. Your exhibition industry is going through a renaissance, and is more and more present on the international and global scale. We are happy to be in Rome with our event this year, and we are grateful to have Fiera Roma as our host partner. We hope that the meetings alongside the event this week will further strengthen the links between exhibition organisers and venues in Italy and their international peers”, says Kai Hattendorf, UFI’s Managing Director.


“There are strong ties between Italy and UFI: Our association was founded in Italy, in Milan, in 1925. In recent years, we have organized regular events in Italy: The Global Congress in Milan in 2015, our European Conference in Verona in 2018, and now the Global CEO Summit in Rome in 2020. We had an Italian serving as the president of our global association in 2017/18, Corrado Peraboni. We also collaborate very closely with Italian industry bodies like AEFI – especially on projects like “Global Exhibitions Day”, an annual day of advocacy for the exhibition industry”, says Hattendorf, UFI’s Managing Director.

The global exhibition industry

According to UFI data, In 2018 there were 4.5 milion companies taking part at exhibitions worldwide with a total of 303 million people attending these events as visitors These events generated an economic impact of 275 billion euros and they contributed 167.2 billion euros to the world’s GDP.  The employment implications are decisive and have in fact produced 3.2 million jobs.

Around the world, exhibition space available in designated venues has grown by +7,6% in terms of space (equal to an increase of 1,3% per year in the sector’s infrastructure). Around of 61% of locations have an internal capacity between 5,000 and 20,000 sqm. One third (34%) of locations globally fit to the mid-size segment, offering between 20,000 and 100,000 sqm. However, the 62 sites with more than 100,000 sqm are growing by 29%, making them the fastest growing market segment.

In this industrial scenario, Europe ranks first with 112 million visitors and 1.3 million exhibitors in 2019, representing more than a third of the total global visitors. Europe is also the leader in exhibition space with 15.7 million square meters and 499 locations, comparing the global regions.

The Exhibition Industry in Italy

In Italy there are 43 exhibition center with around 2,300,000 square metres of surface area according to Aefi data (Associazione Esposizioni e Fiere Italiane, 2019 research for 2018). In 2018 there were 913 events (200 international, 224 national, 400 regional/local, 89 organized abroad) for a total of 200,000 exhibitors of which 98,000 were international events. There were 22 million visitors to these events, of which 13 million for international events. In total this generated a turnover of 60 billion euros and the fairs accounted for 50% of national exports.  Fairs are therefore the main promotional tool, for 75% of industrial companies and 85% of SMEs, and the main instrument for spreading the image of our country in the world.

According to UFI data, World Map of Venus, Italy is fourth in the world for interior spaces after the USA, China and Germany, second in Europe after Germany.

To this must be added the data of the Italian Observatory of Congresses and Events-OICE that attests that the expenditure of a congressman in Italy exceeds 2 to 3 times the expenditure of a tourist on holiday.

We have to consider that the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) visitor, especially the international one, according to OICE has an average expenditure per capita of more than 800€ per day, and is almost always a potential repeater, oriented to come back for a pleasure trip with his affections.

The potential of ROME

It is above all on the international market that the greatest growth opportunities for Rome are opening up. Since its debut in 2017, the commitment of the Convention Bureau Roma and Lazio has generated a turnover of 15.1 million euros in the area of events, an estimate based on the calculation of expenses for the hotel and the event venue.

According to the UFI studies, to every euro spent for an exhibition event should be added 7/10 euros that impact on the territory as an induced between services, products, exports and tourism. Therefore, this commitment to attract events that then partly took place has an exponential multiplier effect on the territory of Rome and Lazio.

The sector from which the requests for events at Convention Bureau Rome and Lazio originate is mainly the pharmaceutical sector which holds 49% of the demand, followed by technology at 22%. So the fascination of ancient ruins and cultural heritage has its importance for a cultured target like the congress one, but in the MICE sector also the presence of centres of excellence in training, research, science, medicine, industry, design, agriculture and technology comes into play.

Rome central position in the Mediterranean area, its easy international reach and its historical openness to the world play in its favour.  For the second consecutive year, Fiumicino Airport has been judged the best in Europe for quality of services by the Airport Council International.

“In order to organize successful fairs we need a unified perspective in which the city and the territory represent a single large network offer, in which to the unquestionable charm of the destination, we can add a range of efficient and diversified services such as those of the members of the Convention Bureau Rome and Lazio, and the economic impact would be projected well beyond the duration of the fair and the companies participating in it” says Onorio Rebecchini, president of the Convention Bureau Rome and Lazio.

Fiera di Roma often mentions the ESC Congress Case History, which brought 60,000 congressmen to the city, with 160 million induced activities for the city, and today, with the presence of a Convention Bureau Roma e Lazio the possibilities of attracting this type of event have become systematic and plannable.

“I like very much – observe Pietro Piccinetti, CEO and General Manager of Fiera Roma – representing our industry as a real engine for the economic and social development of territories and countries. This characteristic is what, in addition to the numbers that speak for themselves, gives the sector an absolute charm. Fairs create bridges and break down walls, the fair-congress system, like a great silent giant, has the great power to direct synergies, create connections, promote the wellbeing of peoples, make wealth, knowledge and know-how flow. This honour, which is also an important responsibility – concludes Piccinetti – is the main incentive to do more and better our work every day”.

The Exhibition Industry Sustainability

The exhibition sector is an industry with a strong positive impact on the global economy. In fact, it also contributes to the development of research, knowledge, helps to stimulate innovation in many sectors including machine tools, medical and surgical equipment.

Based on the GDP impact, this industry – if it were a country – would rank 56th place in the world economic scale, but unlike many others, it also has positive social implications.

From the economic point of view, the induced effects of a trade fair or congress have an impact on service providers, hotel operators, cleaning companies and producers of sustainable materials.

A simple decision on waste treatment in this sector could affect the achievement of the UN targets for sustainable development. Indeed, many exhibition center have started to implement ideas and best practices to align with the goals of the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda. To accelerate the dissemination of these great ideas and best practices across the industry, UFI has developed an online platform where industry stakeholders can share and exchange best practices that contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development goals.