Trade Fair Organizers in Germany Restart After Covid-19 Shutdown

Germany is well known as one of the world’s top trade fair locations. Cancellation of events due to Covid-19 hit organizers hard. But new concepts allow for an optimistic outlook.

July 2020

160 to 180 international and national trade fairs and conferences take place in Germany every year, with around 180,000 exhibitors and 10 million visitors. Amongst them are:

  • Hannover Messe International, showcasing latest products and services in industrial digitization and automation
  • Medica, the world’s largest fair for medical devices, health and pharmacy
  • IFA, Berlin’s international consumer electronics fair

Direct sales amount to EUR 15 billion, overall economic effect reaches up to EUR 28 billion. Five of the ten largest trade fair organizers worldwide are located in Germany.

Postponed or cancelled events due to Covid-19

International participants have not been able to travel to Germany as they used to in order to show their latest developments or meet their peers in person. Authorities have prohibited large events and instituted contact restrictions.

Initially, organizers postponed events, but some including the Hannover Messe and the ITB, world’s largest tourism fair, had to be canceled entirely. AUMA, the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry, calculates that cancellations and postponements of German exhibitions may cost up to EUR 3 billion in 2020.

New regulations allow for trade fair restart

Despite the persistent challenges of the pandemic, German authorities began in May to send signals that trade fairs could restart. Exhibitions are now no longer regarded as mass events and are subject to different Covid-19 regulations and state laws. If sound hygiene and social-distancing regulations are maintained, fairs can be held again. This development has been accompanied by the reopening of borders, hotels, and restaurants in the late spring.

For example, IFA, Europe’s largest consumers electronics show, is about to organize four physical live events in Berlin in early September as well as a virtual extension. Dusseldorf’s Medica, where the world of medicine meets in autumn, plans to go ahead under special hygiene and infection precautions. And Automatica, another leading exhibition of smart automation and robotics, has been postponed to December rather than being cancelled.

New concepts: digital conferences

In addition to the restarting of physical fairs, Hannover Messe organized an online event called Digital Days in mid-July. It featured an interesting and extensive conference program for exhibitors and visitors, and 10,000 participants had the chance to connect with new and existing contacts using an online matchmaking tool. Gamescom, world’s largest gaming fair, which takes place in Cologne each August, is hosting a pure digital event, including a cosplay village, this year as well.

Germany Trade & Invest is happy to be once again participating in fairs and congresses in Germany, whether they be physical, digital or hybrid events. We look forward to meeting you again and informing you about the latest developments in your respective industry – online and in person.


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