The Spanish Trade Fair Association celebrated its 60th anniversary

  • The AFE gathers a hundred guests in Valencia to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of its establishment on May 14, 1964.
  • AFE members held a total of 433 fairs, attracting over 6.5 million visitors and 55,200 exhibitors, with an economic impact of 13 billion euros.

The Spanish Trade Fair Association (AFE) celebrated the 60th Anniversary of its establishment on May 14 at the Feria Valencia facilities, the organization that promoted its creation in 1964, initiated by its president at the time, Ramón Gordillo.

For this, AFE brought together its members, professionals linked to AFE, several representatives of business associations with which it has relations, as well as some authorities and leaders of economic institutions.

The event featured interesting presentations on the economic impact of trade fairs, the evolution of professional events, and the state of the trade fair industry in Europe, with speakers including Joaquín Maudos from the Valencian Institute of Economic Research, Eric Mottard from Grupo Eventoplus, and Nick Dugdale-Moore, European Director of UFI, the leading international association in the sector. During the event, the aggregated data from its members for 2023 were presented, the history of the association and its most significant milestones were reviewed, and commemorative plaques were awarded to the founding entities, the trade fair organizations of Barcelona, Bilbao, Seville, Valencia, and Zaragoza.

The event was opened by the association’s President, Xabier Basañez, alongside Paula Llobet, Councilor for Tourism, Innovation, and Investment Attraction of Valencia. The President of the Valencia Chamber of Commerce and Vice President of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce, José Vicente Morata, and the Regional Minister for Innovation, Industry, Commerce, and Tourism, Nuria Montes, who closed the event, also spoke. Before the session ended in the morning, attendees had the opportunity to listen to a musical performance by the string trio Art i Arcs, followed by lunch at a restaurant in the Palau de les Arts, and then a visit to the Oceanographic -courtesy of Visit Valencia-.

President Xabier Basañez stated: “We held an institutional yet heartfelt event in Valencia, at the headquarters of the entity whose president promoted the creation of AFE, and we were joined by numerous friends and professionals connected to our sector. The occasion deserved it. Additionally, the data for 2023 have shown that the trade fair industry is in a good moment, with generally positive results in the fairs held throughout the year, marking a growth trend for the current year.”

The Trade Fair Market

Regarding the trade fair activity in Spain in 2023, the data confirm that it was a year of growth across all indicators. Specifically, the figures from the annual audit are as follows:

– Total number of fairs held: 433 (422 in 2022).

– Number of registered exhibitors: 55,254 (+12% compared to 2022).

– Total net area occupied by exhibitors: 3,671,000 m² (+16.1%).

– Total number of visitors: 6,501,300 (+9%).

– Other registered virtual visitors: 503,945 (745,940 in 2022).

Additionally, the data on the impact of the Spanish trade fair market as a whole, still referencing the years prior to the pandemic, are:

– Economic impact: 13 billion euros (direct, indirect, and induced production).

– Contribution to national GDP: 6.5 billion euros (direct, indirect, and induced GDP).

– Direct and indirect jobs generated by trade fair activity: +123,000.

The figures highlight both the state of the trade fair industry and the significant importance of the sector in terms of annual economic impact and job creation. The association also anticipates an excellent 2024 in terms of fairs held and other parameters, as we have been observing through the announcements from our members across the country.

Commercial fairs, both the most established international ones and smaller scale ones, have returned to the calendar on their usual dates without cancellations. Some fairs have surpassed their pre-pandemic figures in terms of visitors and/or exhibitors.

The sector generates an annual revenue of between 600 and 700 million euros, and Spain has 54 trade fair venues with an exhibition area exceeding 5,000 m², totaling 1.6 million square meters, making us the sixth country in the world in exhibition capacity and the fourth in Europe. Of the fairs held in Spain, 102 are recognized as international fairs, of which 92% are organized by AFE members or held in their facilities.

To confirm the importance of the activity worldwide, we recall the main figures calculated by Oxford Economics that UFI, the leading international association of the trade fair industry, has disseminated:

– Fairs: 32,000 annually

– Exhibitors: 4.8 million

– Visitors: 353 million

– Net occupied area: 143 million square meters

– Impact: 299 billion euros (direct, indirect, and induced production)

– Contribution to GDP: 179 billion euros (direct, indirect, and induced GDP)

– Direct and indirect jobs generated by trade fair activity: 3.4 million

The Spanish Trade Fair Association (AFE) is a non-profit entity established in 1964, currently with 36 member associations, representing the trade fair sector in Spain and internationally. Spain is among the leading European countries in trade fair activity, along with Germany, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom.



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