UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, has recently published its 18th annual report on the Trade Fair Industry in Asia. This edition is particularly significant as it marks a fresh start after the disruptions caused by the global pandemic. The report offers an extensive overview of the performance of 17 exhibition markets in Asia during 2022, with additional insights into the recovery in 2023 and a forward-looking perspective towards 2024.
Due to the unprecedented impact of the global pandemic, year-on-year comparisons have been challenging. Consequently, the report compares the performance of 2022 to the pre-pandemic year 2019. It’s important to note that estimating net space sold during the COVID-19 era was intricate due to the dynamic and rapidly changing trading environment and the limited availability of accurate data during regional lockdowns.
The report reveals a substantial 87% decline in net space sold across Asia in 2022 compared to 2019. The net space sold plummeted from 24.5 million square meters in 2019 to a mere 3.2 million square meters in 2022. Most trade fair markets, including those in Southeast Asia and larger markets like Japan, India, and Korea, experienced a 60% to 70% reduction in net space sold during 2022 compared to 2019.
A noteworthy factor contributing to this decline is China, which accounted for 60% of the region’s net space sold in 2019. China remained closed throughout 2022 due to strict COVID-zero policies, resulting in the removal of over 14 million square meters from the market. Similarly, Hong Kong and Macau followed Beijing’s lead, experiencing around a 90% reduction in net square meters sold compared to 2019, while Taiwan showed a more modest 70% drop.
The positive aspect highlighted in the report is the substantial recovery in 2023 across key exhibition markets, including China, Japan, India, South Korea, and Hong Kong. These markets collectively represent over 80% of net space sold in the region, and they are expected to match or exceed 2019 levels in 2023. Moreover, further growth is anticipated in 2024.
Kai Hattendorf, UFI Managing Director and CEO, commended the remarkable recovery in Asia in 2023, emphasizing the resilience of the industry and the irreplaceable value of face-to-face interactions. The report is not only a source of proprietary statistics but also provides insights into the trends and challenges that will shape the Asian exhibition industry in 2024 and beyond. The report covers trade fairs and supporting facilities in 17 markets, offering a detailed analysis of market performance in 2022 and an industry outlook for the coming months, including commentary on key trends in each market.