Global Economic Significance of Business Events

The Events Industry Council commissioned a study on the global economic significance of business events, conducted by Oxford Economics.  This is unprecedented research that could only be accomplished through the collaborative efforts of the public and private sectors to qualify the value, influence, and impact that business events produce throughout the world. It further enables this dynamic industry to benchmark its current contributions and track its future growth.

The data in this study provide a clear and credible statistical base on which to gain recognition for this vast and diverse industry as a vital economic driver and clearly articulates the downstream benefits to other industries and the people who work in them. Anyone who reads this report will better understand the economic significance as well as the depth and breadth of the global business events industry.

IMEX CEO Carina Bauer and EIC CEO Karen Kotowski discuss the Global Economic Significance Study

Following are some of the key findings:

Direct impacts of global business events (2017)

  • Number of participants: Business events involved more than 1.5 billion participants across more than 180 countries.
  • Direct spending (business sales): Business events generated more than $1.07 trillion of direct spending, representing spending to plan and produce business events, business events-related travel, and other direct spending, such as spending by exhibitors.
  • Direct GDP (gross domestic product) and employment: Business events supported 10.3 million direct jobs globally and generated $621.4 billion of direct GDP.
  • Average spending per participant: On average, $704 was spent per business event participant.
  • Top countries: The top 50 countries accounted for $1.03 trillion of business events direct spending, representing 96% of the global total.
  • Prior country-level studies: Previous country-level analyses of business events activity accounted for almost two-thirds of the estimated global total, providing a solid research foundation.

Total impacts of global business events (2017)

After accounting for indirect and induced impacts, business events supported a total global economic impact in 2017 of:

  • $2.5 trillion of output (business sales)
  • 26 million jobs
  • $1.5 trillion of GDP (representing contribution to global gross domestic product)
  • The business events sector directly generated more output (business sales) than many large global sectors, including consumer electronics and computers and office equipment.

The $1.5 trillion of total GDP supported by global business events would rank the sector as the 14th largest economy globally, larger than the economies of countries such as Australia, Spain, Mexico, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia. Based on its $621.4 billion direct GDP impact, the business events sector would rank as the 22nd largest economy globally.

Download the full report here.

Read the press release here.

We would also like to thank our partners in this ground breaking collaboration on this unprecedented global study.


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Events Industry Council Research Committee. We extend our thanks to them for their oversight of the project.

Cathy Breden, International Association of Exhibitions and Events (Chair)

Mark Cooper, IACC

Vicki Crews-Anderson, Financial and Insurance Conference Professionals

Nancy Drapeau, Center for Exhibition Industry Research

Jamie Faulkner-Mageau, U.S. Travel Association

Sharon Moss, ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership

Meredith Rollins, PCMA Foundation

Paul Van Deventer, Meeting Professionals International

Melissa Van Dyke, Incentive Research Foundation

Andreas Weissenborn, Destinations International