Attendance short-circuits at Hannover’s tech fair CeBIT

Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn’t enough to draw visitor’s to this year's CeBIT, Germany’s biggest high-tech trade fair in Hannover. Attendance dropped almost 20 percent, the event's organiser Deutsche Messe said on Sunday.

Attendance short-circuits at Hannover's tech fair CeBIT
Empty stands at CeBIT. Photo: DPA

Though the gadgets were small and sexy, CeBIT couldn’t turn the tide against a worsening global economy. Just 400,000 visitors walked through the enormous convention halls in Hannover, compared with almost 500,000 visitors in 2008.

Organisers had hoped California Governor Schwarzenegger would raise interest in the annual trade show. With California serving as a partner host to this year’s CeBIT, Schwarzenegger opened the fair alongside Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday with a rousing speech calling on the tech industry to see opportunity in the current economic crisis.

Deutsche Messe CEO Ernst Raue said the show was still a success, despite the shrinking attendance. Many exhibitors left the show with “full order books and a solid basis for new business,” Raue said at the closing press conference Sunday.

The number of exhibitors also dropped this year by nearly 25 percent to just 4,300. But CeBIT has been in a long period of decline pre-dating the current crisis. At its high point in 1995, the fair hosted 6,100 exhibitors and 750,000 visitors. Deutsche Messe announced next year’s show will be shortened by one day.