Despite the many trade fairs around the world, there will always be a benefit to attending CarraraMarmotec, which took place in Carrara, Italy, from May 29 to June 1, 2002. In addition to visiting with suppliers of natural stone, machinery and related products at the fairgrounds, attendees can also visit some of the many stoneworking firms in the Carrara region, which represents one of the most advanced areas for stone fabrication in the world.

The organizers of the fair, Internazionale Marmi e Macchine Carrara (IMM Carrara), report that the event featured 711 exhibitors, including both producers and representatives, with 100 foreign exhibitors from 30 different countries. The event took place over 540,000 square feet of space, including outdoor exhibits of stone tiles, slabs, blocks and machinery as well as several indoor pavilions. A total of 37% of the exhibitors dealt in stone materials, with 55% specializing in stoneworking technology and the remaining 8% dealing with specialized products.

Attendees came from Italy as well as from 104 different countries around the world, including visitors from the U.S., Canada and the European Union (with strong attendance from Central Europe) as well as from the Middle East and Africa.

A census of the Italian visitors to CarraraMarmotec revealed that 76% attend the fair on a regular basis, with about 24% being "new visitors." Organizers attribute this last percentage to an extensive promotional campaign on the event. Among foreign visitors, 40% of those interviewed acknowledged visiting the fair for the first time, and over 20% of these attendees reported making business transactions at CarraraMarmotec. The Italian visitors expressed an interest primarily in stoneworking technology, while the foreign visitors' main interest was in stone materials.

"We cannot but assess as positive the results of this event," said Luigi Danesi, chairman of Internazionale Marmi e Macchine. "Given the visitors number and their qualifications, this edition has been attended by many professionals from all over the world, in particular from the areas very interested in Italian products."

To gauge the satisfaction of the exhibitors at CarraraMarmotec, the organizers conducted a poll of participating firms. This survey revealed that 42% of the exhibitors assessed results as "sufficient," 23% deemed the results as "good," and 3% judged the event to be "very good."

Another very positive aspect of the event was the number of foreign professional delegations visiting the exhibition. Organizers pointed out that many high-profile groups were on hand at the event, due to the promotional efforts of IMM Carrara along with ICE (the Foreign Trade Institute); the Ministero degli Affari Esteri and Regione Toscana.

In addition to the exhibition, CarraraMarmotec has long been a platform for meetings and conferences specific to the natural stone industry. The schedule of the events included the presentation of the book "Stone Sector," which offers an overview of the stone industry, and was discussed by international experts. Other seminars discussed new European regulations for stone, and there was also a technical session held by the architects who won the Marble Architectural Awards program by IMM Carrara. These awards were given to those architects that have accomplished noteworthy stone projects in Northern Africa and the Middle East.

The next edition of CarraraMarmotec will be held, as always, in Carrara, Italy, from June 4 to 7, 2003.