Study shows economic importance of Olma trade fairs for city and region

A study by the University of St.Gallen shows that the activities of Olma Messen and the expenditures of its exhibitors and visitors as well as the organizers and participants are associated with considerable regional economic effects.

According to the study, Olma fairs are important for the regional economy. In the picture: Hall 1.

The business activities of Olma Messen St. Gallen with its trade fairs, congresses and events result in a wide range of economic effects for the city of St.Gallen and eastern Switzerland. This is shown by a new study of the Institute for Systemic Management and Public Governance of the University of St.Gallen (IMP-HSG). Those responsible have investigated what added value Olma Messen generates for the city of St.Gallen and eastern Switzerland, who benefits from it and what other effects the cooperative has on the region.

"The trade fair and exhibition activities of Olma Messen not only make a significant contribution to value creation and employment in the St. Gallen region, but are also a showcase and platform for the regional economy and contribute to the image of the city and region," says Dr. Roland Scherer, Director at IMP-HSG, summarizing the study results.

Significant economic effects

The study showed that the trade fairs and events of Olma Messen generated total sales of around CHF 294 million with their exhibitors, organizers and visitors in the 2019 financial year. Of this, around CHF 177 million was generated in eastern Switzerland (AI, AR, SG, TG). Direct and indirect sales for the city and agglomeration of St.Gallen amounted to around 141 million Swiss francs.

1,350 full-time positions in eastern Switzerland

In 2019, the activities of Olma Messen had direct, indirect and induced employment effects of around 1,350 full-time positions in eastern Switzerland - around four-fifths were in the city and conurbation of St.Gallen. The indirect employment effects were particularly in the hospitality industry, trade and business-related services. For accommodation businesses in the city and agglomeration of St.Gallen, the trade fairs and events of Olma Messen represent a very relevant NaFrankenragesegment.

In terms of events, it is primarily the national and international trade congresses that generate a large number of overnight stays. For the businesses in the wider tourism region of St.Gallen-Lake Constance, individual trade fairs and events such as the OLMA or larger trade congresses develop a noticeable demand. The activities of Olma Messen St.Gallen are associated with an estimated income, profit and VAT revenue of 18 to 23 million Swiss francs.

With and for the region

The study identifies three possible levers for strengthening the regional impact: increasing the number of regional suppliers at public trade fairs, establishing and expanding trade fairs, and increasing the number of congresses with national or international appeal. In order for this to succeed, it is necessary on the one hand to further develop the image, which up to now has mainly been characterized by rural tradition, and on the other hand to ensure close interaction in strategy and marketing with the location promotion of the city of St.Gallen and St.Gallen-Lake Constance Tourism.

Olma Messen St.Gallen has further developed its strategy in recent months and, among other things, sharpened it on the basis of the impact study conducted by the University of St.Gallen. In the area of trade fairs, the strategic focus is on the development and acquisition of trade fairs and the sustainable development of Olma. "The goal is for Olma to be as successful in ten years as it is today; to achieve this, we must invest and develop with our clientele and the market," says Christine Bolt, Director of Olma Messen St.Gallen.

In the area of congress events, the cooperative intends to act increasingly as a co-organizer and organize congresses and events together with regional institutions and companies. In addition, the strategy envisages a significant expansion of the consulting activities of the in-house event agency.

"Due to our sponsorship and our legal form as a cooperative, we are committed to the region and our owners - and aware of our responsibility. And we are convinced that if we stand together as a region, we will succeed in exploiting the opportunities offered by Hall 1 and thus sustainably strengthen the region, on various levels," says Bolt. On the one hand, Hall 1 offers a wide range of opportunities for new trade fairs and major cultural and sporting events, and on the other, it gives the entire site more room to maneuver during peak periods.


The analyses of the study "The regional importance of the OLMA fairs St.Gallen". led by Dr. Roland Scherer from the Institute for Systemic Management and Public Governance, refer to the year 2019. Due to the Corona pandemic, the activities of the Olma Messen came to an almost complete standstill in 2020. For the study, the researchers carried out a regional economic analysis of the purchasing power and value-added effects of the Olma trade fairs and conducted an online survey of the hotel industry and private landlords in the St. Gallen-Lake Constance destination as well as a media analysis.

The study is available as Download available.

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