"International visitors spend 1 in 5 dollars attending business events in Australia."

Our industry

The business event sector is big business. Business events comprise conferences and conventions, exhibitions and incentives. Their value goes well beyond the industry sector of the event – for small and big business. These events play a pivotal role in Australia’s economic prosperity, including boosting the visitor economy through domestic and international visitation (such as transport, hotels, retail and restaurants), facilitating small business growth by connecting buyers and sellers, knowledge sharing leading to innovation and business collaboration (both locally and globally) and providing a platform for international trade and investment.

What are exhibitions?

Exhibitions, also known as trade shows, expos or even passion events, are a subset of the business event industry.

Exhibitions can be B2B, B2C or a combination of the two.

B2B exhibitions are typically called tradeshows and have certain distinguishing characteristics that set them apart from consumer shows or combined shows, such as:

  • Exhibitors are typically manufacturers or distributors of products or services specific to an industry
  • Buyers are typically industrial end users or distributors within the industry segment
  • Attendance is restricted and is often by invitation only
  • Business credentials or pre-registration are usually required to qualify the buyer and substantiate his/her legitimacy as a member of the trade or industry
  • Most are held annually or biennially

B2C exhibitions are known as consumer, or public, shows. Consumer shows are open to the general public, bringing sellers of goods and services in direct contact with buyers.

Some tradeshows, especially those for consumer goods, are also open to the public.

Australia’s exhibition industry

In 2015, EY released The Value of Business Events to Australia – a study produced for the Business Events Council of Australia with the support of the Australia Government.

It found that in 2013-14, over 37 million people attended more than 412,000 business events in Australia. These business events directly generated:




And, attendance at these event was equivalent to:

  • 8x 2000 Sydney Olympic Games
  • 5x AFL seasons
  • 25 Vivid Sydney festivals
  • 530 Australia Opens
  • 535 Asia World Cups

The same report found the following about exhibitions in Australia:

  • There were 2,157 exhibitions staged in Australia, attracting 9.3 million visitors and over 65,000 exhibitors
  • Exhibition visitors spent $2.3 billion in Australia
  • Exhibitors spent $643 million in Australia
  • Exhibition organisers spent $137 million in Australia, generating $88 million in value add
  • Total direct expenditure from exhibitions was $3.1 billion, contributing a direct value add of $1.5 billion and generating over 21,000 jobs
  • 41% of Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre revenue is generated by exhibitions
Read the fact sheet Read the full report

In its 2014 Australia’s international business events sector: the economic and strategic value proposition report, Deloitte Access Economics found that one in five dollars spent by international visitors in Australia is spent attending some sort of business event. It further found that 46 per cent of business events delegates participate in pre- and post-event tours around regional and metropolitan Australia and 26 per cent of these visitors are accompanied by at least one family member or friend, making the business events industry one of the most valuable segments of the country’s visitor economy (tourism).

Read the full report

The global exhibition industry

The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI) estimates that the exhibition industry stages around 31,000 exhibitions around the world each year – that’s an average of about 85 every day of the year.

This equates to around:

  • 124 million sqm of total net exhibition space rented
  • 4 million exhibiting companies and approximately 260 million visitors
  • USD55 billion in total value
  • 680,000 full-time equivalent jobs

On average, exhibitors participate in five shows per year and 51 per cent of exhibitors transact with international clients (2014-2015 microeconomic study conducted in France by UNIMEV). Visitors and exhibitors combined spend around USD109 billion every year on exhibitions, with around 50 per cent benefit to the exhibition industry and 50 per cent benefit to the local/regional economy (accommodation, transport, restaurants etc).