Exhibition Industry – Key figures

Trade fairs are by far the most important instrument in B2B communications. This is one of the main reasons why the exhibition business is one of the leading service sectors in Germany. It encompasses all companies, associations and persons that organise fairs or provide services for organisers and exhibitors. The sector also enjoys a high status internationally.

Latest key figures

In the Corona year 2020, only 114 of the planned 355 international, national and regional trade fairs could be held. Accordingly, according to AUMA 2020 calculations, only just under 2.5 million m² of stand space, 70,000 exhibitors and 4.3 million visitors were registered. These are declines of around 72% in each case compared to the results at the preliminary events of the trade fairs originally planned for 2020. At the latter, almost 8.9 million m² of stand space, 248,000 exhibitors and 15.6 million visitors were recorded.

The global exhibition market

To judge by its revenues, the German exhibition sector is a major player not only in Germany but also internationally. Five of the world’s ten highest-grossing trade fair companies are headquartered in the country. Sales in the trade fair sector have increased steadily for the past fifteen years, nearly without exception. In 2019, trade fair organisers in Germany achieved a turnover of around 4.1 billion euros despite a smaller trade fair programme, thus remaining at the previous year's level.

According to the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI), there are around 1,200 exhibition venues worldwide and 31,000 exhibitions a year. Germany accounts for nearly 10 percent of the world’s exhibition market.

Revenues of exhibition companies worldwide
Hall capacities worldwide

The German exhibition market

Twenty-five venues for international or national trade fairs in Germany have a combined hall space of around 2.8 million square metres. Ten sites each have capacities of more than 100,000 square metres, and five additional sites each have more than 50,000 square metres. Hall space is expected to grow only slightly in the coming years. Investments will be made primarily in quality. An additional approximately 370,000 m² of hall space are available at venues for exhibitions with regional focuses.

The German Exhibition Industry - Turnover of the Exhibition companies (5-year comparison)
The German Exhibition Industry - Turnover of the Exhibition Companies since 2016
Hall capacities in Germany according to venue
Hall capacities in Germany - 5 year comparison
The German trade fair sector – Overall economic importance

International and national trade fairs in Germany


Despite a weakening economy and relatively low growth in foreign trade in Germany, the 163 international and national German trade fairs still recorded slight increases in the year before the Corona pandemic. However, only the capital goods fairs showed stronger growth in exhibitor, stand space and visitor numbers. The public fairs showed strong declines in visitor numbers, especially in the automotive sector.

Trade fairs in Germany – Development 2015-2019

Nearly two-thirds of the leading global trade fairs in different branches of industry are held in Germany. The country is the world’s number one location for international trade shows. Despite the worsening economic conditions, they again grew slightly in Germany compared to their previous events, with only the number of visitors remaining constant. The competitive position of trade fairs vis-à-vis other marketing media remains stable.

Trade fairs in Germany – Absolute number of exhibitors
Trade fairs in Germany – Absolute number of visitors
Trade fairs in Germany – Absolute exhibitor stand space

Participation from abroad

Internationality on the exhibitor and visitor side is the most important advantage of German trade fairs in global competition. For many years, the decisive growth driver in international participation on the part of exhibitors was the region of South-East-Central Asia. Almost 31,000 exhibitors (+11.9%) from Asian countries came to the trade fairs in Germany in 2019. The number of exhibitors from EU countries fell by 2%. 

Trade fairs in Germany – absolute number of foreign exhibitors
Trade fairs in Germany in 2019 – Foreign exhibitors by regions
Trade fairs in Germany in 2019 – most important exhibiting countries 
Trade fairs in Germany – absolute Number of foreign visitors
Germany as a trade fair location in 2019 – Foreign visitors by regions
Trade fairs in Germany in 2019 – most important visitor countries

Regional trade fairs

International and national trade fairs in Germany are supplemented by a dense network of regional trade fairs for both trade and public visitors. Some 55,000 exhibitors and around 6 million visitors gather at these events every year.

Key figures 2019

The 160 trade fairs with a regional catchment area in Germany recorded a total of almost 52,000 exhibitors, 1.62 million sqm of stand space and 5.7 million visitors in 2019.

Regional exhibitions in 2020 – The 65 fairs compared to their previous events

German trade fair activity abroad

AUMA MesseTrend 2019 - Participation at trade fairs abroad
In addition to participating in trade fairs at home, German businesses also make considerable use of trade fairs abroad. German companies participate in an average of ten fairs every two years: six in Germany and four in other countries. A good third (36%) of these companies selected trade fair locations in Europe in 2017/2018, and 24% overseas. These figures are from the 2019 AUMA MesseTrend, a representative survey (carried out by TNS Emnid) of 500 German exhibiting companies.
Foreign trade fair programme – Development since 2014
Trade fairs organised by German companies abroad

AUMA MesseTrend 2020 survey – Graphics

A few months before the Corona pandemic, in November 2019, 500 representatively selected German companies that primarily exhibit at business-to-business fairs were surveyed. The result once again impressively showed the fundamentally strong anchoring of the trade fair as an instrument in German companies. According to the survey, 29% of exhibitors wanted to spend more money on trade fair participation in 2020/2021, 53% wanted to invest about the same amount, and only 17% planned to spend less. These were the findings of the AUMA MesseTrend 2020, a survey conducted by Kantar TNS on behalf of AUMA. But even in this survey it became clear that real experiences and virtual reality will complement each other in the future - at least on exhibition stands of German exhibitors. For the time of the Corona pandemic and beyond, a considerable strengthening of this development is expected.

2020 AUMA MesseTrend survey – Planned trade fair participation
2020 AUMA MesseTrend survey – Planned trade fair participation

2020 AUMA MesseTrend survey – Planned trade fair investment
2020 AUMA MesseTrend survey – Planned trade fair investment

2020 AUMA MesseTrend survey – Importance of trade fairs as marketing instruments

AUMA MesseTrend 2016-2020 - Trade Fairs in the marketing mix 


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