Where are exhibitions being staged again?

Paul Colston takes a global view of some of the first successful examples of exhibitions being staged again, despite the Covid backdrop.


To borrow the key theme of November’s UFI Global Congress, ‘resilience’ has shone through in how leading destinations have battled the challenges of the Covid-19 landscape to come up with new ways of operating in safe surroundings.

UFI’s marketing award winner this year, KINTEX, has even had its methodology and strategy used as part of the Guidelines for venues published by UFI, AIPC and ICCA.

The effort to bring our exhibition industry back in person began, let us not forget, in China, ironically the place from which the virus first sprang. The Hunan Motor Show, staged on the last day of April 2020, provided a big fillip and an example of what could be achieved despite necessary restrictions.

Regrettably, some countries are yet to step back into the exhibition in person arena, so maybe they can take some lessons from these few inspiring examples, which shine as a beacon to the tradefair spirit of ‘the show must go on’.


1. USA

Super Pet Expo 2020 was postponed twice Stateside due to Covid-19, until Eric Udler, producer at All Show Services, staged the show 28-30 August at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, Virginia. Super Pet Expo attracted 129 exhibitors (43% down on floor space from the previous edition) and the 5,000 attendees represented just a third of the typical attendance, but it was a good, safe restart.


2. Germany

In summer, Germany’s national government and 16 states agreed to differentiate between ‘exhibitions’ and ‘mass gatherings’ – an important distinction.

September signalled the return of major tradefairs and national industry association, AUMA is predicting 84 exhibitions will be able to take place in Germany before the end of the year. One success was Caravan Salon in Dusseldorf, which rolled its wagons into the Messe in September and attracted 107,000 visitors.


3. England

The London Concours, organised by Thorough Events, went ahead on 19-20 August. The outdoor event was staged at the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) in the City of London and was London’s first major automotive event to take place since the outbreak of Covid-19. Thorough Events created an operational plan that included revised hospitality, audience capacity and increased venue space as well as separate morning and afternoon tickets.


4. Italy

Organiser of the 60th Genoa International Boat Show (the only boat show to take place in Europe during the Covid-19 crisis), which ran 1-6 October, saw 400 brands from 20 countries represented.

Tickets sold out on multiple days while a one-way system and booked meetings only were key to the event’s success.

The event was “a shining symbol of Italy’s sense of social responsibility, determination, conviction and know-how in these complicated times,” an organiser spokesperson said.


5. Egypt

Informa organised one of the largest events in Egypt amid the current challenges, with its Cityscape Egypt real estate show held in accordance with AllSecure Informa guidelines.

The event, held at the Egypt International Exhibition Centre, 4-7 November, was supported by the ministry of housing, utilities and urban communities.


6. South Korea

KINTEX in Seoul, South Korea hosted MBC Construction Expo in May and processed 45,500 visitors using stringent Covid testing and tracing systems.

KINTEX created a ‘three-stage access control’, disinfecting and ensuring 100% external air intake and air-conditioning at the venue.

Body temperature measurement was carried out at the entrance and the KINTEX safety manual provided key material for UFI/ICCA/AIPC’s subsequent Guideline document on health and safety.


7. Australia

Australia is also looking to get back into the exhibition act. International Convention Centre (ICC) said, 2 November, it had been advised by the New South Wales Department of Health that the venue can proceed with public exhibitions, subject to one person per four square metres of space and no capacity limit. ICC Sydney says it will welcome the Reed Gift Fairs and Life Instyle - in February 2021 over four days.


8. China

The Hunan Auto Show was first off the exhibition restarting grid in April in the Chinese city of Changsha. Over 62,000 visitors and 100 auto brands attended the six-day show held under strict health screening conditions. And Reed Exhibitions was one of the first international organisers into the new Shenzhen World venue with its Shenzhen Gift and Home Fair in  June. The show covered 160,000sqm of space over 10 days and was 50% larger than 2019.

Face masks, temperature checks and QR travel codes were all in place.