Taking place in the stoneworking hub of Carrara, Italy, the 26th edition of CarraraMarmotec was held from June 1 to 4. The event drew solid international attendance, as people were not only there to see the exhibition, but also to visit the wide variety of stone-producing companies in the region.

The historic Carrara White marble is still being specified for prestigious projects around the world, such as the ongoing completion of the Oslo Opera House in Norway (see page 98), and companies are also processing a broad range of other materials. Stoneworking plants in the Carrara area are not only working granite from around the world, but also a range of exotic stone materials, such as onyx and semi-precious stones.

CarraraMarmotec had a total of 412 exhibitors -- including 61 coming from outside of Italy, representing 18 countries. The exhibition area covered over 400,000 square feet, including indoor pavilions as well as exterior displays.

In all, over 18,000 visitors attended the exhibition, including over 4,000 from overseas -- according to statistics certified by ISF (the Fair Statistics Institute). "It's a very rewarding result, especially if we consider the hardships the industry is going through and the similar exhibition that was held in Nuremberg just in the days before Marmotec," said Giancarlo Tonini, president of IMM Carrara, which runs the fair. "This 26th fair also confirms the positive signs that over the last few months have given cause for hope to our companies. The countries of origin of the operators are closely related to the promotions we have conducted in some important countries and areas, such as the Near and the Middle East and Europe. Significant was also the increase in the number of Italian operators from the traditional quarrying areas. It shows that Carrara is a milestone for those who quarry and process stone as well as for those who design and build with stone."

Due to Stone+tec in Nuremberg, Germany, which takes place every other year, CarraraMarmotec 2005 saw a slight decrease in the number of visitors from Eastern and Central Europe. However, organizers report that this loss was made up by increased attendance from the Near and Middle East, North America, France, Spain, Portugal, Croatia and Mediterranean Africa.

The Far Eastern countries also look at CarraraMarmotec as an important exhibition. There were nearly twice as many visitors from Pakistan and more than twice as many from China, India and Japan, a country that is reopening its doors to the Italian market.

In the Middle East, the many targeted promotional campaigns carried out over the last few months brought to CarraraMarmotec an increased number of operators from Iran and the United Arab Emirates. Similar success was found in Bulgaria and Romania, running against the trend of the other Eastern European countries.

In addition to the exhibition, CarraraMarmotec 2005 featured several conference programs and presentations. Among the topics discussed were trade issues, based on a survey conducted by the Foreign Trade Council on the current aspects and developments of the U.S. market.

The schedule also included the annual technical workshop "Pietre che fanno architettura" (Stones that make architecture), during which the Marble Architectural Awards (MAA 2005) were presented. This year, the com-petition focused on works completed in the Far East. The winning architects were present to illustrate the current trends in the use of marble in far distant lands (see page 134).

The latest edition of Stone Sector, the book by IMM that publishes all the figures of the world's stone market, and the Guida alla Marcatura CE dei Prodotti Lapidei (Guide to the EC Marking of Stone Products) were also presented during CarraraMarmotec 2005.

In order to boost attendance, IMM points to a solid promotional effort that included 19 missions abroad, as well as marketing that included over 220,000 promotional emails, 160,000 promotional faxes, 170,000 invitation cards handed out by the exhibitors, 100,000 barcode badges for automatic admission and a special mailing was sent out to 7,000 architects and 15,000 building contractors and operators. "In our opinion, CarraraMarmotec 2005 has also been successful for the volume of sales that it has kick-started," said Paris Mazzanti, CEO at IMM Carrara. "So we can say our exhibition has played a key part in the revival of the stone industry, which has reciprocated in terms of success in Italy and all over the world. It is not by chance that many companies have chosen Carrara to showcase new materials and new machines, thus proving right all those people who have pointed out the high quality of the products on display."

The next edition of CarraraMarmotec will take place from May 31 to June 3, 2006.