Protected by all possible safety measures, Fira de Barcelona is gearing up to restart its on-site activities, especially after Easter 2021, with a focus on hosting major international events and the most important professional fairs. This was the message that came from Fira’s General Council, held on the 18th December, which was convened to assess the impact of Covid-19 on trade fairs (around the world), but it also affirmed its commitment to play its role in the social and economic recovery.
Fira is ending the year with revenue of over 80 million euros, a figure that falls far short of recent years, in which it has earned more than 200 million (220 in 2019). The quarantine measures and travel restrictions have prevented the scheduled fairs from taking place, and most events have been rescheduled to 2021. This situation has forced the institution to take steps to reduce costs, including placing the workforce on a flexible furlough, with different levels of application.
The CEO of the institution, Constantí Serrallonga, explained that Fira has adapted to the situation by hosting “in-situ events, when this has been possible, accompanied by advances in digital formats, which are sure to remain an important adjunct to our fairs in the future”.
Before the pandemic hit us, we were able to hold the corporate events for SAP and Cisco, and Barcelona Wine Week, followed later by the in-situ and hybrid hosting of BizBarcelona with the Employment Fair, and the FHG Forum, dedicated to food and tourism. FiraCampusVirtual, Valmont Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week, Liber and Smart City Live have all been held in digital format. There have also been forums and webinars from different shows. In other countries, the Smart City Expo Latam in Mexico and Smart City Expo in Santiago de Xile have also opted for digital versions.
The turnover for 2020 has also been helped by the services billed to various organizations and clients before the cancellation or postponement of events. The business activities related with a trade fair can start a long time before the event is actually held.
A new calendar
We are working towards the gradual recovery of the calendar for 2021, especially from Easter onwards, when there are important events scheduled for the Montjuïc and Gran Via sites, as well as activities in other countries. One essential pre-requisite is the application of all currently applicable health and safety measures, and strict compliance with the protocol drawn up for Fira under the guidance of Barcelona’s Hospital Clinic.
According to Pau Relat, Chairman of Fira’s Governing Board, 2021 looks “promising, with confidence in the gradual recovery of our business and the goal of playing a vital role in the recovery of our country’s productive and social fabric”.
The commitment to once again acting as an economic and social driver for businesses, especially SMEs has led Fira to set itself a prudent target: earn revenue of more than 125 million euros. By way of comparison, Fira’s activity in a normal year would generate an economic impact of more than 4,700 million euros, with 35,000 jobs and 970 million in tax revenue. Sectors such as hotels, restaurants, commerce and services, among others, are those which benefit directly from our trade fairs and congresses.
Normality and competitiveness
Fira will continue to work towards a future with full competition and normality, which means that its plan to extend the current surface area the Gran Via site by 25%, to enable its fairs to grow in size and to attract new events, will push on in 2021. At the end of the coming year it will also assume control of the Barcelona International Convention Centre (CCIB), which will strengthen Barcelona’s positioning and global strategy with regard to trade fairs and congresses.
Fira’s agenda is dominated by digitalization, innovation, sustainability and infrastructure projects as it applies for Next Generation EU recovery funds.
The trade fairs of 2021
The following are among the shows that are planned to be held at Fira de Barcelona’s sites in 2021:
- Alimentaria, one of the biggest events for the agrifood industry in Europe. From 17 to 20 May.
- ISE, a leading fair for the audio-visual industry, held in Barcelona for the first time ever. From 1 to 4 June.
- MWC Barcelona, lthe largest international fair in the ecosystem of mobile communications, organised by GSMA. From 28 June to 1 July.
The calendar also features leading events such as Hispack and Alimentaria FoodTech (food packaging and technology), Smart City Expo World Congress (smart town planning solutions), Piscina & Wellness alongside Barcelona Building Construmat; IOT Solutions World Congress (the Internet of things), Expoquimia, Eurosurfas and Equiplast (applied chemistry), BforPlanet (sustainability), Automobile Barcelona, Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week, the Education fair, the Boat Show, Caravaning, Gastronomic Forum Barcelona, Bizbarcelona, Employment Fair and B-Travel.
Among the events organized by other operators there are outstanding fairs like Seafood Expo Global/Seafood Processing Global, the most important seafood trade fair, which has been held in Brussels until now, and the European Respiratory Society (ERS) Congress.
As regards its activities overseas, Fira plans to help organize Smart City Expo in Merida (Mexico), Santiago de Chile, Curitiba (Brazil) and Atlanta (USA), as well as the Piscina and Alimentaria fairs in Mexico, and the Renewable Energy and Transport and Logistics shows in Cuba.