The impact of the Fira de Barcelona

January 2016.- Barcelona is known worldwide for hosting major international exhibitions and fairs. Attracting professionals to trade fair events generates international and business tourism for the city and its surroundings, and that helps to create a more stable, all-year-round flow of tourists, while also adding a more qualitative aspect. 

The fairs, conferences and events organized and attracted by the Fira de Barcelona have an extremely positive impact on the city, its surrounding area and throughout the region: it fosters economic activity in various fields, contributes to the generation of business amongst participants during the events themselves and for local industry, as well as creating thousands of jobs. 

To determine this impact, the ESADE Business School carried out a study centred on the activity of the Fira de Barcelona between 2012-2014, a period covering about 200 events and the participation of over 27,000 direct exhibitors and over 2 million visitors per year. The study used the methodology of Input-Output Tables (IOTs) for Catalonia 2011, taking into account four basic variables: expenses of visitors and exhibitors, operational and functional costs, investment in infrastructure and installations, and the creation of economic activity and business by participants. The final figures are the result of calculating the direct, indirect and knock-on effects.

The economic impact of the the Fira

According to the report, presented some weeks ago the Cercle d’Economia (a nonpartisan institution, nonprofit, founded in 1958 to foster debate on economic policy and social progress), the total annual economic impact of the Fira de Barcelona comes to 2,624 million euros, an impact generating a gross added value (GVA) of 2,360 million euros representing 1.21% of the average GDP in Catalonia. Furthermore, the Fira is behind the creation of 40,580 jobs, employment where 43% is produced in sectors such as catering, accommodation, commerce, transport and entertainment. The activity performed by the trade fair installations also represents tax income of 782 million euros yearly for public finances, through VAT, personal income tax and corporate tax. 

An important part of the economic impact (over 1,000 million euros) comes from the spending from exhibitors and visitors attending the different events celebrated in the Montjuic and Gran Via installations. On the other hand, one of the objectives of the Fira de Barcelona is to be a support system for companies and lever the creation of business and opportunities for Catalonia’s productive sector. The ESADE study detects that the sectorial impact of the Fira’s overall operations is largely concentrated in catering, accommodation, technology, commerce, entertainment, the food and drink industry, real estate activity and transport services.

The Fira’s social values

Over and above the economic impact, the synergies of the institution with its surroundings generate other benefits that are hard to quantify: both the social impact and public value. For the first time, the Fira is taking a methodological look at what this impact represents and is identifying some of its main and potentially calculable contributions, as the first steps towards a deeper study in the future. The ESADE study conceptualises the six main contributions.

  • Economic and productive development: with which it stimulates the productive sector creating opportunities for business and internationalisation, empowering entrepreneurship and supporting small and medium-sized companies and business associations, as well as boosting innovation via the transversal nature of its events.
  • Public space: it gives the trade fair area under its management (400,000 m2) an added value for the general public, thus generating a social and even entertainment space. The fact that the Fira uses the area it occupies to develop its social and trade fair activity means that it is not being used for other activities and is of unquestionable value to the city.
  • A metropolitan hub: through its two installations (Gran Via and Montjuïc) it contributes to create two urban and centralising hubs, attracting local activity among inhabitants and improving infrastructures (pubic transport, airport connection, etc.)
  • Social cohesion: the nature of its events and its visitors creates a multicultural and relevant experience for the participants, a source of value which can be considered to contribute to social cohesion. 
  • Positioning and identity: with its activity and attraction of events and visitors it gives the city and the metropolitan area a more international identity and adds professional and business values, thus helping to give a global image that is beyond the image of conventional tourism. Just as Barcelona adds identity to the Fira, it also is part of the city’s identity.
  • Knowledge and innovation: the events of the institution are a source of generation and transfer of knowledge, and also both a showcase and a unique source of dissemination of the latest innovations in the many economic and industrial sectors that attend the Fira.

Josep Lluís Bonet, the Fira’s president

Updating and highlighting the economic and social impact of the institution just as we are overcoming the serious economic crisis and, above all, as its position in the international trade fair context is being recognised, with a wide portfolio of products and services and an increasingly global dimension

Presentation of the study

The study confirms that the Fira is a relevant actor in the creation of wealth and economic growth in its surroundings; a significant asset that generates a range of benefits for participants, event organizers, stakeholders and the region.

Further information

Catalonia in Business