Australia and New Zealand were the first ports of call on what will be a 90-country tour for drupa, as it seeks to highlight its 2008 event, which is slated to take place over 14 days between May 29 and June 11 next year at its usual Düsseldorf location.
Speaking at the roadshow in Melbourne, Manuel Mataré, the drupa 2008 director described the 2008 show as XXL size and said, "It will be the biggest drupa yet. We have built an additional two halls, and every square metre of space is already sold out.
"We look forward to welcoming the Australian and New Zealand print communities to what will be a focused and highly beneficial experience, as they experience the future trends and direction of the print media and see the opportunities available."
Exhibition space has now topped 170,000sq m, the equivalent of 40 soccer fields, with more than 1800 vendors aiming to impress printers from all over the world.
The two new halls, 8a and 8b are located at the northern end of the fairground, and together with Halls 5 and 9 will house the digital solutions providers such as Agfa, Xerox, HP, Fujifilm, Canon and Ricoh.
In a sign of the growing impact of digital print solutions developers, Canon has tripled its space since last time.
New at drupa 2008 will be the dip or drupa innovation parc, taking place in Hall 7, and hosting topics including workflow, publishing, PDF, and XML.
Hall 7 will also feature the Cube, a new space for print buyers.
And following its successful debut at the 2004 show there will once again be the JDF innovation parc, also in Hall 7.
With global print analyst, Frank Romano, recently announcing that "digital workflow is and will be the future of print", drupa is keen to present the workflow world to the world's printers, and Hall 7 will feature many companies primarily associated with the IT space.
Printers from Australia, New Zealand and the whole Asia Pacific region now comprise a whopping 22 per cent of the entire drupa visitor number, and with the region's population and literacy forecast to skyrocket over the next decade it will become increasingly important to print solutions vendors.
Speaking at the Melbourne event, Ron Patterson, Printing Industries general manager Victoria, and a four-drupa veteran urged printers to "make sure you go, plan as much as possible, take comfortable footwear, and enjoy the sights outside the Messe Centre."
Also presenting in Melbourne was Martin Fothergill, group general manager of PaperlinX Australasia. He highlighted recent Pira research which showed the dramatic impact digital print would have over the next five years.
PaperlinX is not an exhibitor at the show but sends a substantial team of people over to drupa to track developments and assess new opportunities.
Possibly the biggest exhibitor at the 2008 will be Xerox, which will be making its third appearance at the show, following its debut in 2000. Nicole Merhi, marketing manager - business development at Fuji Xerox Australia said the company would have a strong focus on its Freeflow digital workflow solution.
Garry Muratore, Agfa's marketing manager, highlighted the importance of drupa as a launch point for innovative new technology.
Muratore highlighted his company's belief in the future of print as a medium, pointing to the recent 30 per cent growth in Cadbury chocolate bar sales thanks entirely to a switch to a new wrapper.
Agfa will use drupa 2008 as the first outing for what by then will be the new demerged Agfa Graphics and will focus on prepress and inkjet.
Printers planning to attend drupa are urged to book early, particularly in regard to accommodation.
Printing Industries is running a supa drupa tour, in association with Landmark Travel. Prices start from $834 for a three night stay, excluding air fares, and there is a choice of three-, four-, seven- or 14-night stays.
The hotel is located in nearby Mochengladbach, which according to the travel agent is maximum 40 minutes away form the showground by coach, which is included in the tour deal.