London’s ICE has continued its record of sustained growth for the eighth consecutive year as organisers Clarion Gaming revealed the final attendance at the 2008 show reached an all-time high of 12,972. The figure, comprising 10,111 unique ICE-dedicated visitors and a further 2,861 in the co-located remote gaming show ICEi, represents an annual growth of 7.9 %.
Cross-over figures also reveal a further 6,960 buyers from the co-located ATEI (soft gaming expo) visited ICE 2008, boosting the gross attendance to 19,932.
One of the most remarkable statistics from the show was the geographical spread: no fewer than 115 national territories were represented by visitors, five more than the previous year, with five jurisdictions – the Marshall Islands, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Tuvalu and US Minor Outlying Islands – all represented for the very first time. By including ATEI cross-overs, visitors on the show floor combined to represent a global audience of some 127 territories.
International and UK-based visitor levels both grew, with the non-UK contingent up 1.5 per cent to 7,337 and domestic visitor numbers rising 18.2 per cent to 5,526.
Growth was recorded across several geographical regions, most notably the Far East/South East Asia whose visitor numbers increased by 18.8 per cent year-on-year from 231 to 284. Middle Eastern and North African representation grew by 11.2 per cent to 198, with continental Europe and the CIS up 2.4 per cent to 5,663 and Southern & Central Africa up 1.5 per cent to 134.
Attendance levels rose across more than 58 countries with 29 new national records set. In addition to the five debut nations, the show welcomed back its first visitors from Azerbaijan since 1997, from Saint Vincent since 2001 and from the Seychelles since 2003.
Outside of the United Kingdom, the USA narrowly retained its top ranking status, with a 2.7 per cent year-on-year growth in visitor numbers taking its tally to 501. Narrowly missing out on top spot was Austria, whose 14.0 per cent increase place the country second with 596 visitors. Sweden (457 visitors) leapt into third place courtesy of a 25.6 per cent rise in attendance. The remaining top ten overseas nations included Germany (447 visitors, -7.3%), Slovenia (392, +2.1%), Spain (387, +18.0%), Italy (385, +4.1%), France (381, -1.6%), Netherlands (294, -27.2%) and Malta (221, +40.8%). Bulgaria increased its visitor count by 40.8%, up to 209, whilst a further nine nations – Canada, Israel, Irish Republic, Russian Federation, Serbia, Greece, South Africa, Romania and Australia – were all at the show in force, each represented by more than 100 visitors.
Karen Cooke, Clarion Gaming’s Head of Exhibitions, said: “ICE and ICEi continue to demonstrate their huge appeal to operators from every jurisdiction in the world, whether land-, cruise- or remotely-based. Much of the credit for the attractive powers of the show must go to the exhibitors who year-on-year continue to surpass themselves in the depth and breadth of their innovative displays.”
She added: “We will continue to work in close partnership with all of our stakeholders, exhibitors and visitors alike, to ensure that 2009 is better still and we look forward in particular to the input into the show’s future development by the European Casino Association.”
Next year’s ICE/ICEi takes place at the Earls Court Exhibition Centre, London, UK on 27-29 January 2009.