At 528 pages, covering 27 sectors and including 16 different country reports, UFI’s Exhibition Industry in Latin America (LATAM) Report released at the end of 2020 is the most definitive report on the region since AFIDA last released an exhibition industry status report eight years ago. This new UFI LATAM Report contains key findings including the number of shows, trends and economic development of the region.

Ana Maria Arango, Regional Manager of UFI for LATAM oversaw the mammoth effort, with their office reaching out to individual organisers, venues and suppliers over the last 1.5 years. The efforts also included hundreds of visits to show websites to obtain data. Once the initial information was collated, UFI sent out a customised survey to LATAM stakeholders to uncover trends and further the analysis.

Ana Maria highlighted some positive prospects within the region saying, “Venues are expanding because show organisers plan not only growing their shows but are launching new ones. The UFI LATAM Study metrics show that over the next 3 years, LATAM is a land of opportunity and growth.”

These include:

Women in Management: 31% of all top level positions are women-occupied.

Venue Modernisation/Expansion: 54% of all LATAM venues have plans over the next 3 years to expand. 68% have renovation plans.

Growth: Organisers (pre-pandemic) said that they were poised for very strong growth (50%) or medium growth (55%). (More than one answer was permitted.)

Launches: Organisers are growing their portfolios with 35% predicting at least one launch in the next year and 26% planning on 2-6 event launches.

Digitisation: Technology and digital offerings have grown significantly as 86% of respondents added digital services/products around existing exhibitions. Interestingly, another 36% launched digital products not directly related to their exhibitions.

Despite digitisation’s growth, LATAM venues report 52% of their income is still space-based, and 72% of show organiser income is based on selling stands to exhibitors.

Market Composition:

The report covers 16 markets in Latin America; Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.

Brazil is the powerhouse in the region, responsible for 1395 expos. In second place is Mexico with 483 exhibitions. Argentina (now experiencing a largescale economic crisis) was in third place with almost 400 expos, and rounding out the top four is Colombia with 175 exhibitions.

LATAM exhibition markets are very local with 70% of organisers only producing events in cities where they are based. Venues also said that 72% of their clients are local as well. In fact, 91% of organisers solely produce expos in their home country, 2% are subsidiaries of larger companies, 2% are foreign companies, and 2% are LATAM based with activities in more than one country.

There are a few notable exceptions of local organisations having a larger-than-local impact, such as Bogotá, Colombia’s Corferias which as both venue and organiser produces some of the region’s largest international exhibitions.

Sixty percent of venues are privately owned, receiving no government taxes or subsidies. Eighty-nine percent of show organisers are privately owned and another 73% are combination venues with proprietary shows which are also privately held.

Ana Maria summed up the study noting, “This groundbreaking and comprehensive study on the LATAM exhibition industry closely follows the region’s economic fragmentation and development.” With thanks to additional funding from SISO, the report is free to UFI Members and $400 USD for non-members.