If You Don’t Know About UFI, You Need To

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UFI may not be a household name, but it is a powerhouse of information and resources for the global exhibition industry.

UFI is not very well known outside of those who plan and host global trade shows and exhibitions, but if you’re not familiar with UFI, it might be a good time to learn about some of the resources it offers that can be useful even for those who don’t dabble in huge multi-national events.

The organization, which represents 50,000 exhibition industry employees around the world, as well as 840 member organizations in 87 countries and regions. The current focus of the organization, which was founded in 1925, is to promote trade shows and exhibitions globally as excellent platforms for networking and marketing, provide research on and education for the global exhibition industry, and tackle challenges that face its members in regional chapter meetings and themed working groups. UFI holds a series of larger events as well, including the annual Global Congress.

UFI offers a plethora of resources under three main areas: research, advocacy and sustainable development.


  • Twice a year, UFI publishes its Global Barometer, which assesses the impact of global economic conditions of the exhibition industry. The latest was released just last month.
  • UFI’s World Map of Venues is a regularly updated global report on venue capacity developments. It was last updated in December 2023.
  • It also offers reports on the value of exhibitions, called Economic Impact Studies. With support from SISO and Oxford Economics these studies calculate the impact of exhibitions both regionally and globally.
  • To show how some trade show organizers are working to reach the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), UFI collected 20 case studies, including from the three largest global expo producers, covering all 17 SDGs, to show how exhibition organizers can and are creating positive environmental and social impact while saving on costs. UFI also produced a report in July 2021 on the status of sustainability in the exhibition industry, including results from surveys conducted by UFI research partner Explori.
  • Also available from UFI’s website are various market overviews of different regional markets, as well as a series of topical reports on specific areas of interest to trade show organizers.


  • UFI’s hallmark advocacy effort is Global Exhibitions Day, held on the first Wednesday of June each year to provide more visibility into the scope and impact of the global exhibition industry.
  • It also offers a set of global event industry positioning papers organizers can use to engage with local governments, organizations and communities, as well as a UFI Global Policy Leadership Series of one-on-one interviews with trade and tourism ministers worldwide and a link to the Net Zero Carbon Events initiative.
  • It also offers a series of resources specific to industry issues, such as industry impact, sustainability, talent, digitization legislation, best practices and health and safety.

Sustainable Development:

UFI is committed to promoting social and environmental responsibility within the exhibition industry and has a dedicated working group of 35 member organizations. It also holds periodic dedicated forums on the topic, which are open to non-members as well as UFI members, releases reports assessing the current state of sustainability in the exhibition industry, as well as reports on how the industry can contribute to the UN’s SDGs and reduce waste.

To reward trade show organizers who are making good progress toward sustainability goals, UFI also has Sustainability Annual Award Scheme, and issues a report showcasing the best practices in use in 41 organizations.

To learn more about these and other sustainability-related UFI resources, check out its Sustainable Development page.

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