UFI Global Barometer indicates exhibition industry set to grow to record levels in 2024

The latest, 32nd edition of global association of the exhibition industry, UFI’s flagship Global Exhibition Barometer research indicates that revenues for 2024 for the industry are expected to reach 115% of pre-pandemic levels on average globally. The newly released report, which takes the pulse of the industry bi-annually, also shows 52% of companies plan to increase staffing levels in the coming six months.

Another key indicator from the Barometer includes 91% of companies replying that they consider generative AI will affect the industry – a figure up from 87% in the previous edition.

The new Barometer’s results highlight that in most markets around the world the exhibition industry fully recovered from the pandemic slump in 2023, with revenues reaching a comparable level to 2019, on average.

'State of the economy in home market' is the most pressing issue (22% of answers globally), followed by “Global economic developments” (17% of answers), according to the research findings.

“Our report shows that the exhibition industry hasn’t just reached pre-pandemic levels in 2023 but is also planning to grow in 2024 and many new jobs in exhibitions are coming up around the world. This good news comes in parallel with shifts of business priorities, where economic and environmental considerations show significant progression,” says Kai Hattendorf, managing director and CEO at UFI.

Size and scope

This latest edition of UFI’s bi-annual industry survey was concluded in January 2024, and includes data from 419 companies in 61 countries and regions.

The study also includes outlooks and analysis for 19 focus countries and regions – Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, the UAE, the UK, and the USA – as well as five additional aggregated regional zones.


The level of operations has clearly picked up in the second half of 2023, the study shows, with a large majority of companies from all regions (77% in the Middle East and Africa to 57% in North America) declaring an increase.

This trend will continue in 2024 with, on average, a percentage of companies reporting an increased activity ranging from 66% in North America to 64% in the Middle East and Africa, 55% in Asia/Pacific and 54% in Central and South America and Europe respectively.

Turnover and profits

With the outlook very positive, according to the UFI Barometer and 2024 revenues expected to grow by an average of 15%, it is important to note general trends vary from one country to another:

  • Revenues from 2023 compared to 2019 vary from 127% in India, 120% in Spain, and 110% in Italy, to 88% in Colombia and 85% in South Africa, or to 82% in Germany and 80% in Thailand
  • Revenues from 2024 compared to 2019 vary from 154% in India 151% in Greece to 99% in China and 94% in South Africa.

In terms of operating profits compared to 2019 levels, around half of the companies are declaring an increase of more than 10% for 2023, and one in four a stable one. Compared to 2022, six companies out of ten are declaring an increase of more than 10%.

The highest proportion of companies expecting a profit increase of more than 10% when compared to 2019 are in the UAE (91%), Saudi Arabia (80%), India (71%), Brazil (67%), and Mexico (64%).

Workforce development

Globally, 52% of companies declare that they plan to increase their staff numbers in the coming six months, and 45% declare that they will keep current staff numbers stable.

The highest proportion of companies planning to add staff are identified in Saudi Arabia (100%), the UAE (82%), India (80%), Greece (73%) and Malaysia (67%).

Most important business issues

This edition of the Barometer highlights significant shifts when compared to the previous edition eleased six months ago:

  • The most pressing business issue declared in this edition is ‘State of the economy in home market’ (22% of answers globally - compared with 14% six months ago - and the main issue in all regions, and most markets).
  • Overall, ‘Global economic developments’ come in as the second most important issue globally (17% of answers, compared to 12% six months ago), followed by ‘Geopolitical challenges’ (12%).

‘Internal management challenges’ (10%) and ‘Impact of digitalisation’ (6%), which were the top two issues six months ago (with 21% and 17% of answers respectively), are now also preceded by Competition from within the exhibition industry’ (11%) and ‘Sustainability/Climate’ (10%).

An analysis by industry segment (organiser, venue only and service provider) shows no differences regarding the three most pressing issues for organisers and service providers, which remain ‘State of the economy in home market’, ‘Global economic developments’ and ‘Geopolitical challenges’. For venues, ‘Geopolitical challenges’ are preceded by ‘Internal management challenges’ and ‘Competition from within the exhibition industry’.

The 32nd Global Barometer survey was conducted in collaboration with 31 UFI member associations.