Trade Shows Postponed and Canceled Outside of U.S. Amid Coronavirus Concerns

TSE STAFF
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Editor’s note: As this story develops, the TSE staff will continue to monitor the impact of the novel coronavirus pneumonia (Covid-19) outbreak from various angles to provide you with information pertinent to our industry.

SINGAPORE —Informa Markets is postponing its inaugural Food&Hotel Asia (FHA)—Food & Beverage event due to global travel concerns regarding the coronavirus or Covid-19 outbreak.

The event was scheduled for March 31–April 3 at Singapore Expo. ProWine Asia 2020 in Singapore, which was to be held concurrently and is co-organized by Messe Dusseldorf Asia and Informa Markets, is also postponed. Rescheduled dates for the two events had not yet been announced as of press time.

“The safety and well-being of our exhibitors, event attendees and staff is our top priority,” stated Martyn Cox, Event Director, Hospitality, Food & Beverage — Singapore, Informa Markets. “There have been signs of community spread and local authorities have issued advisories to avoid large crowds and as a result we expect event attendance to be affected. …Our focus now is to provide our exhibitors, event partners and registered visitors with the support they require as a result of this decision.”

Informa Markets announced the decision to reschedule this year’s FHA-HoReCa, originally planned for March 3-6 at the Singapore Expo, to July 13-16. The event, which showcases the world’s leading suppliers in the hotel, restaurant and café industry in Asia attracted more than 80,000 people in 2018. According to a Reuters news report on February 6, more than two dozen large trade shows and industry conferences in Asia have been postponed.

The virus outbreak is having an effect on trade shows outside Asia as well. On Wednesday, event organizer GSMA called off the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, scheduled for February 24-27. A marquee event for Barcelona and for the mobile phone industry, the annual MWC typically attracts more than 100,000 attendees, about 6,000 of whom travel from China. High-profile exhibitors, including Facebook, LG, Nokia, Sony and Vodafone, had pulled out of the show, citing coronavirus fears, before it was cancelled. GSMA Chief Executive Officer John Hoffman said the decision to cancel was due to a “force majeure” event beyond the organizers’ control. Spain has two confirmed cases of the coronavirus at press time.

Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) 2020, held at RAI Amsterdam February 11-14, reported a 26% drop in total attendance compared to its record-setting 81,268 last year at the same venue.

Organizers said coronavirus-related fears as well as travel disruptions caused from high-winds that shut down major airports in Europe (including Amsterdam’s) were the reasons for the decline in attendance at the show, which is billed as the world’s largest AV and systems integration event.

Meanwhile, UFI, The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, has launched a blog where member associations post updates and policy statements relating to the coronavirus outbreak. A statement on the blog from the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry said that in Germany “all trade fairs will take place as planned.” A statement from the Russian Union of Exhibitions and Fairs said that the country’s Ministry of Health sees “no reason to cancel any events taking place in Russia due to today’s situation.”

Here’s the link to UFI’s new blog page: http://blog.ufi.org

Danica Tormohlen, Editor-at-Large, contributed to this article.

Reach Kai Hattendorf at (33) 1 46 39 75 00 or kh@ufi.org; John Hoffman at 678-281-6600 or  info@gsmaintelligence.com; Martyn Cox at +65 6233 6651 or martyn.cox@informa.com.