CEBIT - Show attendance down 18 per cent on last year

Companies sent fewer employees to the CeBIT technology trade show in Hanover, Germany, this year, but those that attended were more senior, organizers said in a statement Thursday.

Around 700,000 visitors, over 85 percent of them there on business, attended the eight-day show, which finished Wednesday, to check out the latest developments in computing, software, networking and telecommunication.

Visitor numbers were down around 18 percent on last year's record attendance of 850,000, when the show only ran for seven days, the organizers said. German trade fair organizers count the same person attending two days of a show as two visitors, CeBIT organizers said in a statement last year. Since this year's show ran for longer, the drop off in the number of people attending may be even larger than the visitor numbers suggest.

However, the proportion of visitors holding top managerial positions has risen from 18.1 to 20.9 percent, organizers said, suggesting the change could be due to companies sending fewer low-ranking employees to the show than in the past.

One surprise in the statistics was a rise of around 6 percent in the number of visitors from the U.S., to 9,400 from 8,900 in 2001. The organizers had expected the economic decline in the high-tech industry, and the heightened concern over security since last year, to discourage trans-Atlantic visitors. Such worries cut attendance at the influential Comdex Fall trade show in Las Vegas last November.

However, there were markedly fewer exhibitors from the U.S.: 345 this year, down from 477 last year. Some of those staying away may be waiting for the first CeBIT America event, due to take place in New York in June.

Overall, the number of exhibitors in Hanover was almost unchanged at 7,962 this year against 8,093 last. Of those, 3,043 were from outside Germany, compared to 3,059 a year ago.

As last year, the largest foreign contingent came from Taiwan: 594 this year, against 527 in 2001.

Put next year's show in your diary: It runs at the Hanover Fairground in Hanover, Germany, from March 12 to March 19, 2003.