Defence exhibitions and events were either postponed or held online to comply with the travel restrictions and physical distancing measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Verdict has conducted a poll to assess whether respondents would be interested in physical participation of defence/trade shows in 2021.

A majority 65% of the respondents opined that they would be interested in physical participation of defence/trade shows this year.

Physical participation in defense shows

Further, 23% of the respondents voted that they would not be interested in physical participation of defence/trade shows and the remaining opined they may be interested in physical participation.

The analysis is based on 305 responses received from the readers of Verdict’s defence sites, Airforce Technology, Army Technology, and Naval Technology, for a poll conducted between 21 January and 01 March.

COVID-19 impact on defence shows

The global exhibition market size was projected to contract by 70% in October 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according AMR International. The market, however, is projected to rebound to 78% of 2019 value by 2022 although the recovery will vary across regions and countries.

Several defence shows that offer a platform for governments, armed forces and companies to witness the latest developments in the industry were cancelled due to the pandemic. Interest in the shows, however, is returning with International Defence Exhibition & Conference (IDEX) held in February 2021 in Abu Dhabi, UAE, attracting 1,300 vendors from across the world. Local and foreign arms deals worth $1.36bn were signed during the event.

Interest towards other defence shows including the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI), planned to be held in London, UK, in September 2021 is also growing. Event organisers hope that some of the current restrictions imposed due to the pandemic will ease by September. Certain measures have still been incorporated such as physical distancing and open-plan environment.