Allegrini 2024

Business and financial help: Italian fairs are restarting (agro-food worth 25%)

Maurizio Danese, president of Veronafiere and AEFI, said: “the scenario has changed, now we can plan the future on a different basis”
Maurizio Danese, president of Veronafiere and AEFI

The second half of 2021 is looking better and better for Italian Fairs, following the last dramatic year and a half (in 2020 losses totaled over 80% on a turnover of 1 billion euros), and they can now look, cautiously though, to the future. In the last few weeks, agro-food and wine events (which are worth 25% of the trade fair turnover), from “Vinitaly Special Edition” to Veronafiere, Cibus in Parma and Sana in Bologna, to name some of the topmost ones, have marked the restart of trade fairs, strategic platforms for the market and for exports, which are aiming straight for a record 50 billion euros by the end of the year. However, there is also another reason, which is financial stimulus, and therefore the trade fair companies are once again able to take a breather, plan and invest. For instance, Veronafiere, which organizes Vinitaly, the most important Italian wine Fair that will return to Verona in its “full version” (already sold-out) in 2022 (April 10th -13th). “The SPA in Viale del Lavoro analysis, which the Ministry of Tourism published (November 5th), revealed the list of beneficiaries approved for the free grant (subject to verification), due to lack of revenues incurred last year for Fairs and conferences not held. The total amount of stimulus funds assigned or in the process of being assigned to the Veronafiere Group, to cover losses incurred in 2020, is 24 million euros. The total sum in favor of the Veronafiere Group is close to 14 million euros, which shall be added to the recent SIMEST resolution for an additional 10 million euros”, explained an official note from the Verona institution.
“The team work between Veronafiere and the city of Verona’s political forces has led to an excellent result”, said the president of Veronafiere, Maurizio Danese, “to which the Government contributed with the competent Ministries, starting with the Minister of Tourism, Massimo Garavaglia, by overriding the de minimis aid regime. We would like to remind you that up until a few months ago, the fate of the Fair was at great risk, as the capital increase was still uncertain and stimulus aid was at an impasse. Today, though, the scenario has changed and we can plan our future on a different basis. Our greatest satisfaction”, added Danese, “was the fact that during the emergency the political representatives of the city and the Veronafiere partners themselves joined forces in defense of their reference Fair. Since Trade Fairs have restarted in the second half of this year (30 events that Veronafiere has organized starting from June this year until the end of November, including also International events), we have been given back, on the one hand, an essential asset for the Country system, while on the other hand, businesses have immediately shown extraordinary enthusiasm and participation”.
The entire Italian Trade Fair system, the engine that moves over 1 billion euros in turnover every year, has restarted. And most of all, “in the last 2 years and the numbers are exceptional”, underlined Danese, as president of AEFI, the Italian Exhibition and Fair Association, “which go beyond the rosiest expectations. Seventy percent of the 335 exhibitions, 172 of which were International, scheduled from September to the end of the year, were held in absolute safety, despite the substantial presence of the public and above all, of business professionals. In addition to this, the various institutions have highly accelerated the stimulus funds, which AEFI considers fundamental to continue a strategic Made in Italy asset. The dialogue with the institutions has always been active and today it is defining pivotal answers for the future”.
The above comment came after the Ministry of Tourism published the list of beneficiaries approved for the “theoretical” non-refundable grant (i.e., subject to verification) due to no revenues in 2020 because fairs and conferences were not held, and resulting from the distribution of the Stimulus Funds in reference to the same year.
According to what the Ministry of Tourism has published, explained AEFI, the ceiling that waives the limits set on State aid for the events sector amounts to 350 million euros, of which 130 million euros is just for Italian Fairs. The four major Fair organizations- Fiera Milano, BolognaFiere, Italian Exhibition Group and Veronafiere- are among the main beneficiaries of the free grants to cover the losses registered last year, which alone determine 70% of the sector's turnover, plus stimulus funds for over 50 million euros. Further, there are contributions allocated in 2020 through the other Decrees including measures supporting the “Italian District” from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAECI), SIMEST (financial solutions) and the Ministry of Culture for potentially, 40 million euros. Regarding the contributions assigned, which were published on November 5th, 331 Fair professionals from Northern to Southern Italy, have been approved to receive stimulus points. However, funds covering the 2021 losses, contemplated in the “Stimulus” and “Stimulus 2” decrees, totaling 150 million euros have not yet been disbursed. Regulating the distribution of these sums as well as the de minimis waiver has still not been decided.“The sector”, concluded Danese, “collectively requested the waiver and the Minister of Tourism, Massimo Garavaglia, implemented it to save the competitiveness of the exhibition system and the companies engaged in internationalization”. The MAECI-SIMEST grants, on the other hand, are at an advanced stage, and have already allocated non-refundable funds for 250 million euros. These stimulus funds, together with restarting activities, seem to have made the big Italian exhibition platforms safe once again, which are even more importantly soaring on world markets, especially the agro-food sector, the pillar of Italian economy.

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