The crisis sparked by the Covid-19 emergency has had a devastating impact on the conference and events industry. According to an Italian Survey of Conferences and Events, events venues in Italy registered a decline in revenues of 79% in 2020.
Conference centres, trade fair conference venues, hotels, historic residences and other types of events venue have thus been the hardest hit companies in the tourism value chain. Based on Istat findings, revenues for 2019 fell by 37.2% for catering services, 54.9% for accommodation services, 60.5% for aviation and 76.3% for travel agents and tour operators.
The study, promoted by Federcongressi&eventi, the national association representing the sector, and conducted by ASERI – the Graduate School of Economics and International Relations of Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, highlights a series of indicators, all preceded by a minus sign.
According to the study that has monitored events and conferences held in Italy since 2014, 69,880 events were held in person in 2020, a huge 83.8% drop from 2019. Attendance figures and venues’ days of activity also followed a negative trend. Attendance came in at 5,847,330 (-86.5%), while days of activity excluding set-up and dismantling, totalled 95,020 (-84.5%), equivalent to 24.8 average net days of events per active venue. Almost 30% of venues did not host any event.
Based on the sample of respondents, 42% of venues held one or more hybrid events, mainly conference centres and trade fair conference venues. 67% of the venues contacted between December 2020 and January 2021 expected that they could again host conferences and events by the end of the first half of 2021.Of these, 17.8% hoped to reopen in the first quarter. A return to the levels of events hosted pre-Covid-19, the majority, 63.8%, estimated it would take 1-2 years and 26.8% 3-4 years.
“The serious crisis in the sector, confirmed by OICE data, will soon also be reflected in the financial statements of all the companies involved in the conference and events value chain, and not just those of the venues”, commented Federcongressi&eventi President Alessandra Albarelli. “After over a year of closures and inadequate support, the government must as a matter of urgency define the criteria for the measures that have been envisaged up to now, set up a dedicated fund for the industry for 2021 and plan the recovery for a sector that generates significant economic activity for the regions.”