Global Economic Impact of the Exhibition Industry

The exhibition industry is an important pillar of economic growth globally. It ranks as the 55th largest economy based on its total (direct and indirect) contribution to global gross domestic product!


In 2019, before the pandemic outbreak, exhibitions directly involved nearly 353 million visitors and almost 5 million exhibitors across more than 180 countries, generating more than €125.6 billion of direct spending by visitors, exhibitors and additional exhibitions-related expenditures, supporting 1.4 million direct jobs globally and directly generating €73.5 billion of global GDP.


After accounting for indirect and induced impacts, exhibitions in 2019 supported a global economic impact of €298.7 billion of total output (business sales), 3.4 million total jobs and €179.3 billion of GDP (representing contribution to global gross domestic product).


Based on these facts, it is estimated that the total output per sqm of exhibition capacity amounted to approximately €7,500 in 2019, which means that global exhibitions directly generate more output (business sales) than many large global business sectors, including machine tools and medical & surgical equipment.


In Greece, according to a new study for 2022, the industry involves over 1,050 companies with 4,400 employees and a turnover of €225 million, while its support to the national GDP amounts to €246 million. The sector’s significant multiplier economic effect for the Greek economy translates into more than €1 billion for a raft of collaborating sectors such as tourism, catering, conferences, transport, customs clearance, and many others, while yielding respective tax revenues to the government, which increases the support to national GDP to €499 million. In Greece, during 2022, the total output per sqm of exhibition capacity amounted to €7,200.


According to the Greek Foundation for Economic & Industrial Research (IOBE), the average international visitor to trade fairs spends €1,150 per visit, while often staying in the country for tourism purposes beyond the duration of the event. In cities with major exhibition centers, exhibitions create approximately ¼ of the total overnight stays in the city.

The post-pandemic landscape

The exhibition industry was one of the most affected by the pandemic, enduring an 18-month ban. It was perhaps the industry that suffered the most, but since the beginning of 2022, all indicators show that the industry is rapidly and dynamically recovering, creating optimism for the future.


According to a post-pandemic survey, despite increased familiarity with digital channels, both visitors and exhibitors rate live events more highly across almost all aspects of the experience. Live events are considered more productive for networking and for an overall more enjoyable experience. At the same time, desire to attend events more frequently has now recovered to pre-pandemic levels for both visitors and exhibitors, suggesting that the potential has returned for organic growth in visitor numbers. All these facts highlight the importance of a collective body as SOKEE, which will not only represent the interests of the sector but will also use scientific research, statistics and analytics in order to give a better and clearer picture of the exhibition industry in Greece and its great importance for the national economy.