Exhibition World Issue 2 — 2019 - Page 52

Country focus Italian exhibition elan EW taps into Italian tradefair association AEFI’s research and helps discern some trends, as well as a unique national form of festivalisation espite the slowdown of markets and the economy worldwide, the Italian exhibition sector appears to be doing well thanks to the capacity of its exhibitions to innovate and evolve. The tradefair format is responding to the changing requirements of exhibitors and visitors, offering a full spectrum experience with the proper combination of exhibitions, training and digitalisation. This means revolutionising spaces, transforming formats, organising targeted and personalised events and increasing interaction between exhibitions and conferences, because exhibitions are also a place where professionals expect to learn and refresh their know-how. Indeed, tradefairs are ever less physical spaces in which exhibitors showcase their solutions, and ever more partners and consultants for businesses. Three-quarters (75.3%) of Italian businesses understand the fundamental role played by exhibitions in their growth as an indispensable promotional tool in approaching international markets, according to national tradefair association AEFI. That is a high recognition figure. No.2 in Europe Every year, around 1,000 exhibitions are held in Italy, which AEFI estimates attract around 200,000 exhibitors and 20m visitors. Italy’s total available exhibition space is around 4,200,000sqm, of which 2,270,000sqm is under cover, which contributes to making Italian tradefairs the second largest in Europe and 4th worldwide. Figures from AEFI show that Italy has 43 exhibition centres with more than 5,000sqm of exhibition area: six of which have more than 100,000sqm. Over the years, Italy’s exhibition venue owners have also become organisers, and 52 Issue 2 2019 more than 51% of international fairs are now organised by AEFI members. The 200 international tradefairs expected to take place during 2019 focus mainly on the textile-clothing-fashion sector (15%), sport-hobbies-entertainment-art (12%), jewellery-watches-accessories (9%), food-drinks-hospitality (9%) and industry- technology-mechanics (7%) sectors. Trends 2018 was a good year for the industry: the indicators measured by the AEFI survey (exhibition surface, exhibitors, visitors and turnover) all have positive totals and there is also a significant relationship between the growth in foreign visitors (+17%) and the more than proportional increase in Italian exports (+22%). Investments Internationalisation of Italian tradefairs is also supported by funding from MISE (Ministry for Economic Development) and is written into the Extraordinary Plan for the Made in Italy Brand. There is an increasing trend of exhibition centres organising their own events, better to align the events with their requirements and more than half of international events are now organised directly by centres. Brand Italy, of course, is a hug draw for foreign visitors. Italian exhibition centres are innovating in digital services, include profiling visitors, extending contacts beyond the event itself and spreading awareness about products and sectors, with digital matching of demand to offer. The country’s most prestigious sectors have long been fashion, furnishings and agrifood, but mechanical engineering, automotive, rubber and plastic goods, and pharmaceuticals are also becoming major players as far as international tradefairs in Italy are concerned. Economic Observatory The 39th quarterly survey of trends run by AEFI’s Economic Observatory for the period October-December 2018 showed an overall positive situation for the Italian tradefair sector - both relative to the previous quarter and in comparison with the same period of the previous year. The sector has been so far able to resist the general economic downturn affecting the Italian economy. The number of exhibitions started to grow again over the last quarter (42.29% of the districts in the survey hosted more shows and 46.18% recorded a static situation). The total +31% growth is higher than that of the third quarter of 2017, at +15%. The number of exhibitors has also increased significantly, the Economic Observatory reported. Half (49.99%) of the 26 members who took part in the survey reported an increase, while 19.22% of them reported a downturn. The balance of +31% – the difference between those who foresee an increase and those who foresee a decrease – indicates a positive performance, in line with the end of 2017 and slightly increased over the previous quarter (+29%). An analysis of exhibitor countries shows that both Italians and Europeans are growing their participation (+27% and +23% respectively). The totals for non-EU country exhibitors are still positive, although somewhat less so (+8%). >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> (p.54) w w w.exhibitionworld.co.uk