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The amazing return of the big pandemic loser

The calendar is jam-packed again: 53 trade fairs take place in Germany in March alone, including a number of world-leading trade fairs.

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The amazing return of the big pandemic loser

The calendar is jam-packed again: 53 trade fairs take place in Germany in March alone, including a number of world-leading trade fairs. In Berlin, for example, the travel industry meets at the International Tourism Exchange (ITB), in Düsseldorf the world of winemakers at Pro Wein, in Munich the trade at the Internationale Handwerksmesse (IHM), in Cologne the dental industry at the IDS, in Hamburg the hotel and catering industry at the Internorga, there is also the Didacta education fair in Stuttgart, the Equitana horse show in Essen and the ISH in Frankfurt, the world's largest fair for heating, sanitary and air-conditioning technology.

It was completely different in the past few years: since 2020, official bans to protect against Corona had ensured that events had to be canceled or postponed again and again, often at very short notice. In some cases, the trade fair business was even practically paralysed.

The industry is therefore one of the sectors that have been hit hardest by the pandemic. The trade fair companies lost sales in the billions, and the bottom line was that the numbers were deep in the red. In many places, the owners had to intervene and support the mostly public companies and protect them from bankruptcy.

But it was not just the trade fair organizers themselves who suffered. The long standstill for hotels and restaurants, for airlines and taxi companies or for craftsmen and service providers, many of whom are closely intertwined with the trade fair industry, was an existence-threatening problem.

The exhibition and trade fair committee of the German economy (AUMA) puts the economic damage caused by the forced breaks during the pandemic years at 60 billion euros, plus a drop of ten billion euros in tax revenue.

But as quickly as the business disappeared, it is currently coming back just as quickly. "Despite never-ending uncertainties, the first industry trade fairs are registering above-average visitor and exhibitor rates," reports AUMA Managing Director Jörn Holtmeier.

"Although the costs for travel and accommodation have risen sharply, companies don't want to do without their industry meetings." Germany as a trade fair location is recovering and finding its rhythm again. Peter Ottmann, one of the two managing directors of Nürnbergmesse, thinks so too. He expects the industry crisis to develop in a V-shape: “The crash was massive. However, there are many indications that things are quickly picking up again.” In Nuremberg, this was recently evident from the participation in the toy fair and the Biofach.

In 2022, this recovery started in the second half of the year. In total, 142,000 exhibitors and 7.2 million visitors came to the trade fairs in Germany by the end of the year, which corresponds to a level of 69 percent for exhibitors and 63 percent for visitors compared to the respective previous events. "The 2022 trade fair year started worse than expected, but ended better than expected," says AUMA.

The pre-corona levels should be reached again by 2024/2025 at the latest. At least the first full year of trade fairs since 2019 will take place this year. At least 338 industry shows are planned - almost 25 percent more than in 2022.

"Everything on shares" is the daily stock exchange shot from the WELT business editorial team. Every morning from 7 a.m. with our financial journalists. For stock market experts and beginners. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Amazon Music and Deezer. Or directly via RSS feed.

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