Coronavirus outbreak forces changes to Asian event plans

The general public will not be able to attend this year's airshow; the 2016 edition pictured

Several tradeshow organisers have put the brakes on projects that are due soon in Asia amid the ongoing Novel Coronavirus outbreak, with Beijing InfoComm China 2020 and the Singapore Airshow Aviation Leadership Summit (SAALS) 2020 being among the latest to make the decision.

In a press statement issued on Monday, Richard Tan, executive director of the Beijing InfoComm China 2020 organiser, InfoCommAsia, explained that the decision was made with the “safety of all our exhibitors and attendees” in mind and in an effort to support the Chinese government’s efforts to contain the spread of the virus. Originally scheduled for March 26-28, 2020, Beijing InfoComm China 2020 will be moved to a later date.

Organisers of the Singapore Airshow have cancelled the leadership summit, but have indicated that the exhibition will proceed as planned

Meanwhile, the high profile SAALS 2020, which is part of the biennial Singapore Airshow by Experia Events, has also taken a hit. The event, which typically involves around 300 government officials, civil aviation authorities, airport operators and airline executives, has been cancelled.

The summit’s cancellation is the latest in a series of withdrawals that has beset the air show. As of Monday, 16 companies – 10 of which are Chinese – have confirmed their withdrawal. However, Experia Events, the airshow’s organiser, said the biennial event will “proceed as planned”.

For now, the outbreak-induced event impact is hardest felt in China. The Design Shanghai trade fair, scheduled for March 2020, has been postponed to May while the Festival of Design architecture conference, also due to happen in the same month, will skip an edition to return in 2021. Both are international events that draw a global audience from the design and architecture sphere.

The co-organisers of IT&CM China and CTW China, Singapore-based TTG Asia Media and China-based CITS MICE, have also decided to push the March events to August.

A statement issued by Design Shanghai echoed the cautious messaging adopted by other organisers whose events have been impacted by the virus outbreak and travel restrictions into and within China. It said: “We have made this decision based on advice and information from government and local authorities in China and consultation with our partners, venue and local team. The safety of our customers and team is our first priority.”

Heeding the call of the Guangdong Province authorities to restrict mass activities to limit the spread of the virus, the Guangzhou International Travel Fair moved to suspend this year’s edition. Follow-up arrangements for the event, originally scheduled for February 20-22, 2020, will come later.

Beyond the mainland, the 2020 UFI Asia Pacific Conference and Digital Innovation Forum, planned for early March in Macau, has been pushed back.

A UFI statement expressed: “Although we know that this is disappointing, of course, we always put the health and safety of our members and staff first. Like many of you faced with similar decisions, and after discussions with our hosts in Macau, we have opted to postpone both events until later in the year.”

In Singapore, the second SG Tourism Leaders Engagement Series – organised by PATA Singapore Chapter and co-presented by TTG Asia Media – will be rescheduled to a later date. The event was supposed to be held on February 11, 2020, at Changi Experience Studio @ Jewel, and had seen “overwhelming interest from registrants”.

“Despite the overwhelming registrations we have received over the recent week, we have, in view of the growing novel coronavirus concerns, decided to postpone this event to a later date when the crisis is over,” said Wong Soon-Hwa, PATA Singapore Chapter chair and PATA vice chair, who went on to describe the decision as ” a needful precautionary measure for the well-being and safety of all participants and stakeholders”.

The postponement allows us the opportunity to focus on the recovery efforts of the industry. This is what our industry would need immediately after a crisis,” Wong emphasised.

Update, February 5, 20.07: Informa Markets, the organiser of FHA-HoReCa, announced that the event will be postponed to July 13-16, 2020, due to the Novel Coronavirus situation. The original dates for the show at Singapore Expo were from March 3-6, 2020.

However, FHA-Food & Beverage will take place as planned from March 31 to April 3, 2020, at Singapore Expo, with Informa Markets stating that the “event remains robust in the current climate and visitor pre-registrations continue to pour in”.

For the FHA-Food & Beverage event, Informa Markets will continue to work closely with government authorities and agencies to put in place necessary measures, both pre-event and onsite, to help ensure the safety and confidence of the event’s participants.

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