Research - 24.11.2021 - 00:00 

HSG study confirms: Olma events benefit the city and the region a great deal

A new study conducted by the Institute for Systemic Management and Public Governance of the University of St.Gallen (IMP-HSG) sheds light on the regional significance of Olma exhibitions in St.Gallen. The studys indicates that the expenditures of its exhibitors and visitors, as well as of its organisers and participants, have a considerable impact on the regional economy.
Source: HSG Newsroom

24 November 2021. The business activities of Olma Messen St.Gallen (OLMA) – the fairs, congresses and events – result in a wide variety of economic effects for the City of St.Gallen and Eastern Switzerland. Evidence of this is provided by a new study conducted by the IMP-HSG. The research explored what value is created by Olma Messen events in St.Gallen for the city itself and Eastern Switzerland, who profits from these events and what further effects the cooperative has on the region. The study used data from 2019 and not from 2020, as the Corona pandemic affected activities drastically in 2020. For the purposes of the study, the researchers analysed the regional economy in terms of purchasing power and value creation effects, conducted an online survey of hotels and private landlords in the St.Gallen/Lake Constance area.

Dr. Roland Scherer, the IMP-HSG director in charge of the study, commented on the results as follows: “The fair and exhibition activities of Olma Messen St.Gallen do not only make a substantial contribution to value creation and employment in the St.Gallen region but are also a display window and platform of the regional economy and contribute towards the image of the city and the region.”

CHF 177m turnover, 1,350 full-time jobs

The results of the study reveal that in the business year of 2019, the fairs and events of Olma Messen, along with their exhibitors, organisers and visitors, generated overall turnovers amounting to CHF 294m, of which CHF 177m accrued to Eastern Switzerland (in the cantons of Appenzell Innerrhoden and Auserrhoden, St.Gallen and Thurgau). The direct and indirect turnovers for the city and the agglomeration of St.Gallen amounted to CHF 141m.

In 2019, the activities of Olma Messen registered direct, indirect and induced employment effects of approx. 1,350 full-time jobs – of which one in five could be traced back to the city and agglomeration of St.Gallen. The indirect employment effects particularly concerned the catering trade, commerce and business-related services. For the hotel trade in the city and agglomeration of St.Gallen, the fairs and events of Olma Messen constitute a highly relevant demand segment. With regard to events, it is particularly the national and international specialist congresses that generate overnight stays on a larger scale. For hotels in the further tourism region of St.Gallen/Lake Constance, individual fairs and events such as OLMA or major specialist congresses create a palpable demand. The activities of Olma Messen St.Gallen are estimated to generate income, profits and value added tax revenues of CHF 18-23m.

Three levers for the reinforcement of regional impact

In the context of the study, three possible levers for the reinforcement of regional impact were identified: the increase in the number of regional providers at public fairs, the establishment and expansion of specialist fairs, and the increase in the number of congresses of national and international significance. For this reinforcement to be crowned with success, the image that has so far been predominantly characterised by rural traditions must be developed further, on the one hand, and there must be close interaction between strategy and marketing with the City of St.Gallen’s location development office and St.Gallen-Lake Constance Tourism, on the other hand.

Impact study to sharpen the strategy profile

The impact study conducted by the University of St.Gallen has contributed to a sharper strategy of Olma Messen St.Gallen, which has been further developed in recent months. With regard to fairs, the strategic focus is on the establishment and acquisition of specialist fairs, as well as the sustainable development of the OLMA. “The goal is for the OLMA to still be as successful in ten years’ time as it is now; we’ll have to invest in this and develop alongside our customers and the market,” says Christine Bolt, Director of Olma Messen St.Gallen. In the areas of Congress events, the cooperative intends to act more frequently as a co-organiser and to devote itself to the organisation of congresses and events in cooperation with regional institutions and companies. Additionally, the new strategy envisages a perceptible extension of the in-house event agency’s consultancy activities.

“Owing to our ownership structure and our legal status as a cooperative, we have a duty towards the region and our owners – and we’re aware of our responsibility. And we’re convinced: if we close ranks as a region, we’ll manage to exploit the opportunities of Hall 1 and to use it to strengthen the region in a sustainable way, at various levels,” says Christine Bolt. Hall 1 will not only provide a wide variety of possibilities for new fairs and large-scale cultural and sporting events, it will also provide the whole area with more leeway during peak times.

The study can be downloaded and further information can be obtained in the internet at

Picture: Olma Messen St.Gallen