I have been “on the road” quite a bit in recent weeks, both across Asia and Europe, and am very much encouraged by the packed show floors and showgrounds I have seen in places as different as Oslo, Norway (for the “Norshipping” show), Paris (for the “Paris Air Show”) and Hong Kong (for the June Jewellery event).

But as UFI President, my highlight of the month was to be in Maastricht, in the very south of The Netherlands, for our European Conference and everything that the UFI team had arranged around itself. One of UFI’s oldest events, it had its challenges in the past, but has put on a remarkable recovery in recent years – leading to a sold-out edition with around 300 participants this year. I especially liked the blend of session formats – some fresh ideas there. And while not everything worked out perfectly well all the time, we all benefit from experiencing new ideas and formats. The bicycling in the mornings around the city was great fun…….not something I can easily do in Hong Kong!

As every year, the UFI leadership also met ahead of this Conference, with the usual packed agenda. I want to highlight our volunteer leaders – congratulations again to our future chapter leaders who were announced in June, and also, and especially, to our colleague Hugh Jones, who has been elected as our associations President for the term from November 2024 to November 2025. Hugh brings with him a wonderful perspective on our business on a global scale. He has an excellent feel as to market sentiment and I am 100% sure he will bring many new ideas especially in digital in the years to come. RX is one of the world’s most important exhibition companies. Having Hugh in the UFI presidential trio and as President of UFI as from November 2024 will bring added experience to UFI’s work and guidance.

Let’s celebrate as well the success of this year’s “Global Exhibitions Day” campaign in early June. Once again, the campaign activated endorsements from government officials across the world, including Hong Kong SAR, Italy, Malaysia, Oman, the U.S. State of Nevada, and Spain. These relationships are vital to advocate for the exhibition industry on a higher scale.

What these and other policymakers around the world tell us – we were discussing that in Maastricht as well – is the need for proper education in our sector. July will see UFI deliver another milestone here: The first in-person classes for the “UFI Certified Professional” (UCP), taking place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in partnership with MyCEB. I am personally very happy to see UFI’s education growing in style and substance sustainably. We responded to many requests from members from across Asia and the MEA region when we decided to invest into and develop the UCP designation in recent years. And while the pandemic slowed us down a bit here, the team is now ready to deliver – on-site, online, and in-house.