Will the War Prevent International Association Events Coming to Europe?

3rd Apr, 2022
As the war situation in Ukraine continues to heat up, several concerns have been raised from a destination perspective regarding the impact of the war on event planners when choosing their next congress destination in Europe.
With mounting economic sanctions and increasing tension on the eastern borders, security guarantees and safeguarding delegates have suddenly become imperative requirements to cater for meetings and events in Europe.

From a global health crisis, we immediately moved to a regional war with international repercussions, which led us to reconsider priorities for associations and their event commitments for 2022.HQ reached out several international association representatives to share their voice on this matter:

“As a PCO working with various associations, many of which are medical associations, at this moment, we are not looking into relocating any of our in-person and hybrid events to other continents. As we do not have any conferences scheduled to take place in either of the countries in this conflict, we have not seen a need for any relocations. We are monitoring the situation, but neither we nor our association clients see a reason to move their educational events from Europe,” said Ms. Magdalina Atanassova, marcom director at Kenes Group, based in Tel Aviv.

Mr. David Goncalves,executive director, from International STEM Council, based in Perth, shared his thoughts: “To be honest I think it's 'one step away' from being a continent-wide crisis. That's the unknown which brings anxiety. It's not so much about the threat of war or security doubts during the event, but more about the logistic issue that resulted by the war. Looking into the upcoming 2-3 years, the situation does put a layer of uncertainty…”

“So far, the war has not influenced our decisions or preferences on meeting locations. Probably it will be depending on how the situation evolves. Currently, we don't have any huge events planned for Europe in 2022. Our smaller meetings in Europe are not affected, yet, ” said Christoph Schewe, managing director at International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations (IFALPA), based in Montreal.

Ludovic Thanay, executive officer at World Customs Organization (WCO), based in Brussels, responded: “We don’t see an issue about having an event in Europe. As a matter of fact, we are having our next event in Maastricht in October.” ICCA president, James Rees, also added: “ICCA’s Board of Directors have made a unanimous decision to cancel all planned activities and events in Russia. In addition, Russian members will not be able to attend ICCA events until further notice. On behalf of the Board, we categorically and unequivocally condemn Russian aggression in Ukraine. ICCA is liaising with our members in Ukraine and we will be contributing €10,000 to an agreed humanitarian charity to support them in their efforts to provide aid to those Ukrainians who are suffering as a result of these acts of aggression”

On behalf of the AIPC - International Association of Convention Centres - its CEO, Sven Bossu, also addressed the issue: “The war will not prevent International associations to come to Europe. Travel to and within Europe is safe and there is no reason to think this will change. Yes, there will be some travel trepidation, having a limited impact on delegate numbers. But I believe this will be off-set by the number of people wanting to meet in person after two years of digital meetings. We really should not underestimate the negative impact the last two years have had when it comes to collaboration, trade and innovation. People not only want but need to come together again, because it is a key requirement for building our future.”

HQ will continue to gather more information and different statements from our industry leaders on this sensitive and tragic situation in the days to come. 

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