With over 1000 exhibitors coming from over 41 countries worldwide, and 97 successful editions reinforcing its position on the international trade fair scene, expo Riva Schuh has always been in a central position of importance for Italian institutions, which recognize its leading role as a key player in a sector that is extremely important for the Italian economy – the footwear and leather goods industry – while also representing a driving force for the territory of Trentino and Alto Garda.

It is precisely the representatives of institutions who were present at the inauguration of this event this past 11 June, starting with Cristina Santi, Mayor of Riva del Garda, who underlined how “a fair capable of relaunching with a physical edition in the post-Covid era, with more than one thousand exhibitors, is already a concrete example of success and resilience. The last two years in fact – continued the mayor – were very difficult for everyone, but Riva del Garda Fierecongressi never stopped. It accepted the challenge launched by the outbreak of the pandemic, organising the last few editions of Expo Riva Schuh with a ‘cutting-edge hybrid’ model, while making the most of the benefits offered up by technological innovations. All this allowed for obstacles to be overcome, while permitting Riva del Garda to maintain its role as an international trade fair of paramount importance. In fact, today, it is now possible to return to a physical edition and do business with greater ease and more quickly. Not to be forgotten is that the physical edition of the fair had a multiplicative effect of 2.5%, which means that every euro exchanged at the fair had an external multiplicative effect equal to 2.5 euros. The importance an event like Expo Riva Schuh can have not only for the territory of Riva del Garda, but for all of Alto Garda and Trentino in general can clearly be seen…”.

Maurizio Fugatti, President of the Autonomous Province of Trento, underlined that: “Undoubtedly what we are experiencing is an extremely delicate moment, because we had all hoped that once the pandemic was over, we would have moved towards a future with a more positive outlook. Instead, the war with Ukraine began, with an increase in the price of raw materials and energy, and a rise in interest rates… This is why today, more than ever before, we need occasions that inspire loyalty and hope like this in-person edition of Expo Riva Schuh. That’s not all: before the pandemic, there were very clear rules in the international market, which were essentially those of globalization. With the outbreak of Covid, these rules changed, but once again Expo Riva Shuh proved itself capable of attentively observing what is happening on an international level, while maintaining its own unique features and knowing how to position itself at the same time in a new way that reflects the moment we are currently experiencing. On the other hand, the history Expo Riva Schuh has behind it and the know-how created over the years, demonstrates this”. 

The June edition saw the further reinforcement of the ties between Expo Riva Schuh and the Government, through the ITA Italian Trade Agency, which has put together a beneficial programme of internationalisation that brought an important number of foreign buyers to the fair, with official delegations coming from over 20 countries located in North America, America, Central Asia, the Middle East, the Far East, and Africa, thereby reinforcing the role of the Riva event as a global hub. Roberto Luongo, General Manager of ICE (ITA – Italian Trade Agency) confirmed in this regard: “With the support of our network of 80 ICE offices abroad, we brought around one hundred buyers to the fair from 21 countries. The role of the footwear and leather goods manufacturing sector is of enormous importance for Italy, and the export volume data is proof of it. In fact, our country is the third largest exporter of shoes in the world after China and Vietnam, for a value of around 20 billion euros. Exports, in general, account for 32% of our GDP, and for this first quarter, they recorded a growth of 22.9% over the same period in 2021. These figures demonstrate the dynamism of our businesses on the international market, with over 130 thousand companies that export abroad. Despite the effects of the pandemic and the war between Russia and Ukraine, our exports this year have grown in the first quarter between 15 and 20%. This is why we support events like Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags, which represents an important international fair in what is a strategic sector for Italian exports, that of shoes and leather goods, with around 10 thousand businesses operating in it. At this edition of Expo Riva Schuh, there were over 300 Italian companies present at the fair, which for the most part were of small and medium dimensions, and which provided great added value to the event, attracting buyers and visitors from around the world. In the current situation characterised by an absence of exports towards Russia – worth around 400 million euros – and in our role as ITA, we aim to support Italian businesses, by focusing on alternative markets in a scope of creating greater diversification for exports. As ICE and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we have an important project underway, which is worth over 15 million euros and which supports the diversification of Italian exports on international markets and the sourcing of strategic raw materials that include, for example, leather for shoes”. 

At the fair were also present representatives of Parliament like senator Donatella Conzatti, who confirmed: “It was an extremely difficult two years, and the Government worked hard to provide support to businesses, while at the same time outlining the guidelines for development and innovation to better face the return to normality. Today, we are once again in a difficult situation on a geopolitical level, but Expo Riva Schuh offers a concrete example of how, with each new problem, it is possible to identify an effective and successful solution. Events like this have an important repercussion, not only on the businesses and buyers who participate, but also on the entire territory, and not only in terms of products, but also in terms of expertise and know-how acquired. This fair ranks fourth in the national classification, thereby demonstrating how a small territory like Trentino is capable of giving life to something big and important on an international level. Today, we must invest above all in new models of green development, digital innovation, and products, so we can look to the future with confidence”.

Senator Andrea De Bertoldi likewise underlined that: “Riva del Garda is the trade fair hub of Trentino, an excellence of the territory, as well as an international point of reference. A fair that has always pre-empted the times, by going for example to India or Dubai, markets which at that time were relatively unknown. When the lockdown forced the world to digitalise, the fair knew how to propose a hybrid format, demonstrating once again its ability to react to change and be cutting-edge”.

A concept also reinforced by honourable Diego Binelli: “The trade fair system is central for Italy, and, with the numbers of this edition, Expo Riva Schuh demonstrated how it is one of the most important players. When the pandemic broke out, the trade fair system felt the effects intensely, but the Government showed itself capable of supporting business, which in turn showed great resilience and the ability to react. Today, we must look to the future with trust, while providing help in particular to SMEs, through mechanisms like tax credit destined for participation in fairs”.