Home Business German fairs, total losses of 43.5 billion

German fairs, total losses of 43.5 billion

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The key points

  • The support
  • International exhibitors crucial for the restart
  • The Ifo survey

There is a number that tells more than any other word the difficulty of the German trade fair sector: 270. These are the exhibitions canceled so far this year due to the pandemic. Of these, around 70 were held exclusively in digital mode and 30 were postponed to 2022. Since the beginning of the year, around 90 have been able to attend and there is still the hope of being able to confirm another 25 by the end of December. «The trade fair industry in our country – underlines Jörn Holtmeier, managing director of Auma, the national association of the sector – was one of the most affected by the effects of Covid. Between March 2020 and September 2021, the sector was forced to take a break of 19 months which resulted in an overall economic loss of 43.5 billion euros “. In 2020 alone, trade fair organizations recorded a 70% decline in revenues and the picture is gloomy for the current year as well.

The support

To alleviate the difficulties of the sector, the federal government requested and obtained from the EU Commission the green light for a package of measures in derogation from the de minimis regime on state aid. On 11 November, Brussels gave its green light to the extension of the measure to cover the losses until 30 June 2021.

Among the measures envisaged in the country there is a special Fairs Fund of 600 million euros which allows organizing bodies to cover up to 80% of the preparation costs in the event of cancellation due to Covid. For small and medium-sized enterprises founded for more than ten years that exhibit at international fairs in Germany, support is instead provided for up to a maximum of 12,500 euros for the costs of renting or building the stand. The incentive started in October for participation in 19 fairs and will be active until the end of 2022 (for about 60 events).

International exhibitors crucial for the restart

Next year, the Auma number one admits, «we will most likely not achieve the excellent results of the pre-Covid period and today it is difficult to make predictions. During the first quarter we expect a gradual recovery due to the remaining restrictions on international travel and disruptions in supply chains, while in the second half we believe a more significant recovery is possible. One thing is clear: trade fairs are safe and being meeting spaces for the business community, they are controllable. Proof of the commitment of our sector was the willingness to make facilities for vaccination centers available ». Now, he specifies, “the return of international exhibitors and visitors will be crucial”. In 2019, the former represented 60% of the total, while one in three of the 10 million visitors who attended the demonstrations in Germany in the pre-pandemic years came from a foreign country. “For this reason – concludes Holtmeier – we ask that all vaccines recognized by the World Health Organization also have value for us”.

The Ifo survey

According to a recent Ifo survey on a panel of over 2 thousand exhibitors, the trade fairs in attendance will be a determining factor for the sector’s activity also in the future but will continue to be accompanied by virtual events tested during the pandemic. A “phygital” formula destined to be used also in the future. According to Auma data, German companies spend around 48% of their marketing budget on organizing trade fairs, which are essential for finding customers and partners.

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