Development of Exhibitions and Exhibition Sector in Turkey

As mechanisms measuring the results of studies on exhibitions in numeric terms have not been developed in Turkey; it is unfortunately impossible for us to know how exhibitions contribute to country economy.

Our aim for giving the numerical comparison of Turkish and German exhibitions is to highlight the quality and importance of the exhibitions organized in a country, not their numbers. Moreover; as we mentioned when discussing the problems in exhibitions in our country, the huge numbers of exhibitions organized can be a problem hindering the development of the country exhibition organizations.

The local bazaars which are also called “panayır” (street fair) has a huge importance in Turkish economic life, dates a long time back. The word “panayır” comes from Greek work “Penegyris” (community’s gathering in a place) and its meaning is explained as “a bazaar held in a specific place in a specific time”.

Its remains are encountered in Troy, Kalkamış, Çatalhöyük in Anatolia where the first residential areas of the world were established. Kayseri was mentioned even in tablets of Assyrians as an important commerce, storehouse and fair place.

Using exhibitions as an advertisement tool by corporations and countries was made by unplanned and unscheduled fairs (panayır) in Turkey until 1923.

It is impossible to say that mentioned fairs held were functional enough. These unscheduled organizations of fairs continued until İzmir Economic Congress. On said organization Mustafa Kemal Atatürk commented “Economy Congress is well organized. Repeat this every year. This kind of exhibitions contribute to the development of our economy” and highlighted the importance he gave to this issue. Local and foreign institutions attended this fair.

For 9 September fair organized in the next year; Mustafa Kemal Atatürk conveyed his opinions via telegraph.

After these organizations held in İzmir; exhibitions started to be organized in other cities of Turkey. In these exhibitions economic and commercial goals were thought together with any kind of amusement; however functional features on expertise were not considered well.

With the first İzmir International Exhibition held in 20th August 1936, the fair gained its international identity and both local and foreign institutions attended.

İzmir International Exhibition became a member of International Fairs Union (UFI) in 1946.

This advancement started exhibition sector in Turkey.

Exhibition Sector in Turkey

Serious paces started to be made on exhibition sector since 1960s and the numbers of both visitors and participant in the exhibitions were increased.

Between the years 1964 and 1973; national fairs were held in Samsun, Bursa, Balıkesir, Kayseri, Trabzon, Erzurum, Tatvan, Konya, Kocaeli and Gaziantep.

When we reached 1980s; the exhibition sector stepped a little further and the exhibitions became a prerequisite part of export and import relations.

The exhibition sector made a huge progress, especially in 1990’s; the number of fairs and organization firms founded increased significantly.

Today; many studies are made on the exhibition area and the exhibitions held has an expertise fair quality. Expertise fairs bring purchasers and sales people directly related to the sector together. Thus, there is a serious orientation towards expertise fairs all around the world.