Organisers of Fespa Global Print Expo have reported an “atmosphere of overwhelming positivity” as visitor numbers recover after the end of Covid-19 restrictions.

The print industry event in Berlin, which also included European Sign Expo, attracted 11,647 unique visitors, a 48% increase on last year’s smaller exhibition in Amsterdam in October.

Running from 31 May to 3 June and featuring 375 exhibitors across eight halls, it saw many people attending over multiple days, taking the total number of visits to 15,969.

Analysis of the pre-event registration data, provided by the 53% of visitors who chose to reveal their investment budget, confirmed “significant readiness” to invest at the show or soon after.

Among these delegates, the collective median spend amounted to €1.3 billion (£1.125 billion), not including those visitors who did not indicate their plans.

Announcing the figures, the organisers from trade association Fespa described the event as having “an atmosphere of overwhelming positivity that affirmed the industry’s readiness to bounce back from the challenges of the last two years”.

Michael Ryan, head of Global Print Expo at Fespa, said: “Finally, we could deliver an all-round Fespa experience for exhibitors and visitors that felt like a return to form, and the consensus was that the vibe at the show was incredible.

“Every industry is changed by the pandemic, and print is no exception, but this show proved beyond doubt that print is resilient, creative, agile and focused on the future.

“Our strapline promised ‘Print In Motion’ and this came to life in Berlin, with an incredible sense of forward momentum and commitment to positive progress on areas like sustainability.”

With the global Covid-19 pandemic continuing, fewer people are still travelling and attending events. The last Fespa Global Print Expo in Europe before the pandemic, in Munich in May 2019, attracted 20,780 individual visitors and featured 700 exhibitors.

Fespa has already confirmed the dates of Fespa Global Print Expo and the co-located European Sign Expo for the next two years. In 2023, the events will take place from 23 to 26 May at Messe Munich – the sixth time Fespa has been held in the Germany city.

The following year the exhibitions will fall in early spring, at the RAI Exhibition Centre in Amsterdam, from 19 to 22 March 2024. It will be its fifth time in the Dutch city.

The 2024 event will also incorporate Sportswear Pro, a dedicated event for sports and leisure garment production and decoration. The launch event was due to have taken place in March 2020 in Madrid and was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Michael said: “We had gathered great momentum behind Sportswear Pro for 2020, with a strong line-up of exhibitors and a carefully curated educational programme, focused on the hot topics in garment printing, from near-shoring and just-in-time production to customisation and waste reduction.

“In the intervening two years, the market for sportswear and athleisure has been heavily influenced by the Covid-19 pandemic, sharpening those trends and escalating demand for more agile production and distribution models.

“Based on exhibitor feedback we anticipate a healthy level of interest for 2024 and are looking forward to finally realising our vision with this highly targeted event.”

At this year’s Fespa Global Print Expo, more than 60% of visitors had final purchasing authority or influence. Many exhibitors referenced the high quality of contacts and conversations and left Fespa 2022 with confirmed sales, new distribution partnerships and strong business opportunities for the short- to medium-term.

Kathrin Buhl, director of sales and marketing for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at printer manufacturer Kornit Digital, emphasised the commercial impact of the event: “We really had the best selling show ever. People came here to sign and to do business, so for us it’s a very successful show and we’re happy to be back.”

Neil Felton, CEO of Fespa, said: “The significant spending power of our visitor base and the broad international audience together offer powerful evidence of a rebound in our global community.

“We see confidence returning, inspiring business leaders to invest and also to resume business travel, live events and face-to-face networking where they know it will deliver tangible value for them.

“The glowing feedback from exhibitors and visitors in Berlin tells us that the speciality print community wants and needs to engage in person, and that Fespa is where they come together.

“Now we’re looking ahead to the return of strong Fespa events in Mexico, Eurasia and Brazil, and beyond to our next Global Print Expo in Munich in May 2023. We can’t wait to stimulate the same energy and optimism in speciality print communities in other regions.”

Fespa Mexico will return in 2022 from 22 to 24 September at the Centro Citibanamex in Mexico City and Fespa Eurasia will take place from 1 to 4 December 2022 at IFM – Istanbul Expo Center in Istanbul, Turkey.

Fespa Brasil will kickstart 2023 with its event from 20 to 23 March at Expo Center Norte in São Paulo.