Two major events have been postponed in the last few days, as a consequence of the Coronavirus spread. Organisers have announced to postpone ITB China 2020, originally scheduled to take place from the 13th to 15th of May at Shanghai World Expo Exhibition and Convention Center. Similarly, Reed Travel Exhibitions has announced that it has postponed the inaugural edition of IBTM Asia Pacific planned to be held in Singapore from the 6th to 8th of April.
ITB planners said the deferred show dates will be further announced, while IBTM Asia Pacific has been rescheduled for the 13th and 14th of April next year.
Outside the region, the World Customs Organization (WCO) secretariat also agreed to the request of the United Arab Emirates for cancelling the WCO Global AEO Conference. It was scheduled to take place from the 10th to 12th of March 2020 in Dubai.
As the Coronavirus epidemic reached 75,192 cases and 2,012 deaths at the time of writing (February 19), the meetings industry shows its willingness to ensure the safety of everybody.
However, the consequences for China might be unpleasant. Founder and CEO of China Star Liu Ping said in an interview with TTGmice that she believes “the number one concern is cash flow.”
“The impact on the MICE industry probably is the most severe one ever. For inbound, most of the events have been canceled, or have changed the destination or have postponed till the second half of the year or even next year,” Liu said. She added that, since February 10, working online has become so popular in the industry.
“For domestic events, at this moment, those supposed to take place in February are all canceled.”
“One famous Chinese event company just told me that all their events before May were suspended, same as the outbound events. According to a Chinese medium, the 26th Mobile World Congress 2020 which should be held in Barcelona during the period of February 24-27 and would attract more than 100,000 visitors were canceled because of the worries for coronavirus infection. The organizer in charge of Chinese exhibitors for the event is a company in Shenzhen with the support of GSMA (Global System for Mobile Communication Assembly). So far as I know a couple of event technology companies have downsized about 10% of the manpower.”
“In China, there is not a single government department taking care of the MICE industry. So all my opinions are based on the communication with individual MICE professionals.”
Some companies including Ericsson, LG, Google and Apple suspended employee travel as WHO declared global health emergency. According to legal experts, however, workers can't cite the coronavirus outbreak as a reason not to carry out their ordinary duties—including duties that involve general travel.
HQ got in contact with Carina Bauer, CEO of IMEX Group, and she told us: “IMEX in Frankfurt will go ahead as planned and we do not envisage any significant impacts.” On their website, they said “IMEX will go ahead as scheduled 12-14 May.”
ICCA President James Rees also commented on the virus outbreak and thanked the members for supporting colleagues in China and especially those in Wuhan.
“As an industry, we must demonstrate resilience and confidence by maintaining to the greatest extent possible our ongoing schedule of activities – and where this is not possible, by working collaboratively to develop alternatives that help maintain the exchange of information and insights that account for the benefits we believe to result from this kind of engagement,” Rees said.
“When facing uncertainty or crisis, identifying reliable and timely sources of information is critical to making responsible decisions. We have put together our COVID-19 liveblog to help you find reliable information about the novel COVID-19 outbreak and to share meetings industry-related resources with the global ICCA community of meeting suppliers and associations.”
ICCA also put together a COVID-19 liveblog to help readers find reliable information and to share meetings industry-related resources.
HQ invites again their readers, especially those travelling a lot, to wash their hands often and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. HQ also reminds event organisers to pay special attention to the hygiene issue when planning their next event - by providing sanitisers and a good ventilation system, for instance. Alternatively to in person meetings, online conference calls are a proper choice.
A good and informative Q&A can be found here.
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