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September 11, 2009

Steve Barratt:Facing the big issues

The exhibition industry is expanding globally, but this growth is focused on the emerging markets. ESSA’s chairman says it’s time for organisers in the UK and Europe to acknowledge why this is and act accordingly.

The recent article on the new research from AMR is something of a double edged sword. I am delighted to see that exhibitions are still regarded as a star performer and that, globally, the market will be increasing.

This bodes well for all our members who operate internationally. The concern I do have is that it identifies a growth in the emerging markets, but a decline in that of the UK.

Stop the rot
It is no secret that a number of organisers do not have a single show in the UK. The reason given, almost universally, is that the UK is too expensive and it is cheaper and easier to run and launch new shows overseas.

This is a situation that cannot be allowed to continue. To see UK-based organisers either taking shows overseas or discounting the UK as a launch platform for a new show is shameful.

More cohesion
We often hear that the attraction of other markets is the ‘whole show’ approach, where an exhibition is seen as something that happens both within the venue and also beyond – something that brings economic benefit to area around the venue.

Because of this, there is a cohesive approach to delivery, including local government, development agencies, transport networks and so on.

Time for action
This country can proudly boast some of the most creative and exciting exhibition talent in the world, and it should have an exhibition market that reflects this. The publishing of this report should galvanise the UK exhibition industry, and all organisations involved, into action to address the issues presented.

We do not lack the resources to do this, so let's find the will power and make it happen.

Steve Barratt is chairman of ESSA

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