Coronavirus Postpones Trade Shows and Events in China; Global Exhibition Industry Prepares for Impact

TSE STAFF
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Editor’s note: As this story develops, the TSE staff will continue to monitor the impact of the coronavirus from various angles to provide you with information pertinent to our industry.

BEIJING — A number of trade shows and B2B events in Shanghai, Macau and Guangzhou are being postponed due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus in China.

Many postponements and cancelations are expected follow as officials around the world grapple with containing the rising number of people infected with the virus.

The Chinese government began issuing notices to suspend all large-scale events due to the outbreak. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak a public-health emergency of international concern, and the U.S. State Department raised its travel advisory to level 4, recommending that U.S. citizens not travel to China.

One venue manager based in China told TSE they anticipate all public venues in China will not be allowed to hold shows in February. They said there are rumors this might even affect shows in March, but they have not received official word from the Chinese government, as of press time. Many now monitor for updates on venue websites and on WeChat accounts.

Reed Sinopharm Exhibitions Co. Ltd. postponed its Personal Care & Home Ingredients (PCHi), which was scheduled for February 26-28 at the Shanghai World Expo Exhibition & Convention Center. Held at the Guangzhou Poly World Trade Center in China, PCHi 2019 drew 25,637 trade professionals from 80 countries and 634 exhibitors from 27 countries. Reed Sinopharm Exhibitions Co. Ltd. is a joint venture between Sinopharm, a state-owned pharmaceutical group in China, and Reed Exhibitions.
UFI, the Global Association for the Exhibition Industry, postponed the 2020 UFI Asia Pacific Conference, scheduled for March 5-6, and the Digital Innovation Forum, scheduled for March 4 in Macau.
The organizers of the SPS – Industrial Automation Fair Guangzhou (SIAF) and concurrent Asiamold postponed its 2020 editions, which were scheduled for February 26–28 at the China Import and Export Fair Complex in Guangzhou.

Impact of Coronavirus in Asia
The Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (SACEOS) held an advisory briefing on January 29 for about 200 MICE industry members to discuss an integrated industry response and precautionary measures in tackling the evolving situation with the novel Wuhan coronavirus.

“Singapore’s MICE industry has been through similar past episodes like SARS and H1N1,” said Aloysius Arlando, President SACEOS. “The experience and learnings the industry has garnered are being put into effect through a coordinated approach, to manage the current Wuhan coronavirus situation. The industry is working together to implement relevant measures should the situation worsens. More importantly, we want to ensure that the health and safety of the workers in the industry and attendees to events are safeguarded. SACEOS believes that with our collective experience and wisdom, and as a whole industry, we will continue to be agile and work with partners to face the evolving situation with greater confidence.”

Impact of Coronavirus in the U.S.
American-based trade shows are expected to see a dip in Chinese attendance and exhibitors in the near term, as a number of U.S. major airlines, including Delta, American and United, have halted flights in and out of China through March, when the  outbreak is expected to peak.

“Our show, IPPE, opened on Tuesday, Jan. 28, and closed at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 30. Ironically, we received notice the WHO announcement of the global health emergency at 2:59 p.m. on Thursday [January 31]. We had a total of around 60 Chinese exhibitors, including several from the Wuhan province, who canceled due to travel restrictions,” said Nath Morris, Executive Vice President, Expo, U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, which produces the International Poultry and Processing Expo in Atlanta. “Of the 504 visitors who registered from China, 80% had a badge printed on-site. Last year, we had 548 registered and 85% had badges printed, so we were down only slightly.”

He added: “We have exhibitors who provided foot bath stations and a disinfectant solution for visitors to use entering the exhibit halls, but we did not force all visitors through the areas. These were actually planned earlier due to African Swine Fever, and coincidentally, the disinfectant kills the coronavirus. We strategically placed hand sanitizing units in high traffic areas throughout the building and individual bottles of hand sanitizers in registration for visitors to grab and go.”

It’s too early to predict an economic impact to the global exhibition industry, said David DuBois, President and CEO of the International Association for Exhibitions and Events. “We are monitoring the situation, but like SARS, we are expecting a negative impact on the global exhibition industry.” DuBois recommended that IAEE members check their show cancellation and interruption insurance and contracts with all their suppliers to determine coverage for a global health emergency.

For the most up-to-date information on the outbreak:
WHO: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports/
CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html 

The U.S. Travel Association has also put together an Emergency Preparedness and Response toolkit for the Coronavirus: Click Here.

Reach Aloysius Arlando at 65 6413 2160 or aloysius.arlando@singex.com; Kai Hattendorf at (33) 1 46 39 75 00 or kh@ufi.org; David DuBois at (972) 458-8002 or ddubois@iaee.com; Nath Morris at (770) 635-9064 or nmorris@uspoultry.org.