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Fira Barcelona’s international business is gaining momentum as international travel returns to normal


Smart City Expo opens on wednesday in Brazil, the first of eight events that we are holding outside Spain this year

Fira Barcelona is kicking off its overseas activity for 2023 with Smart City Expo Curitiba in Brazil this week, one of eight events that Fira is holding this year in different countries. Those events are expected to grow in terms of space, businesses and professionals thanks to the recovery in international travel and the end of travel restrictions. The show grounds operated by Fira Barcelona in China are also fully resuming business and will host 71 events – 30 more than last year.

As well as the event in Brazil, Smart City Expo World Congress which starts on wednesday in Curitiba, the leading event in the world for innovation in city planning and infrastructure organised by Fira Barcelona, this year it is opening its doors in a new city with Smart City Expo Bogota, which will be held for the first time on 31 May-2 June in the capital of Colombia. Over the course of 2023, a number of thematic events will also be held: Smart City Expo Latam Congress (Mexico, 23-25 May); Smart City Expo Santiago del Estero (Argentina, 14-16 June); Smart City Expo USA (3-4 October); Smart City Expo Doha (Qatar, 10-11 October); and Smart City Expo Shanghai (China, 12-14 October).


One of the stand-out trade shows in Fira Barcelona’s international portfolio this year is the fourth HostelCuba, the International Trade Fair for Equipment for Hotels, Restaurants and the Travel Industry, which will be held 23-25 May in Havana’s Pabexpo fairground. This will be the biggest HostelCuba so far with more than 20,000 m² of exhibition space, 20% more than the last event in 2019.


According to Fira Barcelona’s Director of International Business, Ricard Zapatero, “this year our international business is getting back to normal. As well as the number of annual events, we are seeing how their size and numbers of participants are returning to pre-pandemic levels, something very positive for business opportunities and the boost to the economy that they represent both in the countries where the events are held and for participating businesses”.


Resumption of trade shows in China

At the beginning of December last year, China ended most Covid restrictions, which has reactivated the country’s economy to recover. That extends to trade shows, with many events that were postponed over recent months to be held this year.


In that regard, the show grounds in Nanchang and Xuzhou, which Fira Barcelona has been managing since last year, will host 71 trade fairs and congresses, which represents a significant increase over the 41 events held in 2022. Two of the most notable are the Educational Equipment Trade Fair which will completely occupy the 140,000 m² of the Nanchang fair ground and the Exhibition of the China Association of Clinical Laboratory  Practice with more than 90,000 m² of exhibition space.


Organising trade fairs abroad and managing show grounds have been part of Fira Barcelona’s international expansion strategy for more than ten years, in order to help Spanish and Catalan businesses to internationalise and take advantage of its expertise in organising such events.