by Expo Events Consulting Expo Events Consulting

European largest exhibition centres are mobilising, demanding a reopening on 1 September.

EMECA, an association representing major European exhibitions centres, has issued a statement calling for the reopening of exhibitions on the continent by 1 September at the latest.

EMECA says it is alerting to the urgency of reopening the venues and is calling for strong financial support from European and national public authorities to ensure the survival and the economic recovery of an entire industry. 

The association notes its European exhibition centres promise to deploy on all venue sanitary facilities meeting the highest sanitary standards and ensure the safety of exhibitors and visitors.

The European exhibition industry is a global leader in terms of capacity, quality and location and is one of the sectors most strongly impacted by the Covid-19 crisis, along with travel and tourism.

“Exhibitions are a source of business and socio-economic impact as well as a source of social ties. However, now that we are ready to host events while ensuring the health and safety of all, the persistent closure measures are threatening our entire industry,” explains Maurits Van der Sluis, EMECA President and COO of RAI Amsterdam.

With currently all exhibitions being forbidden for six months from March to September in most European countries, EMECA estimates the socio-economic impact losses as high as €124.9bn for Q1-Q2. “Some events have been rescheduled but many have been definitely cancelled. The revenue loss in our industry was around 40% in Q1, is 100% in Q2 and a loss of 60% forecasted for Q3/Q4. 

“We were the first to be forced to close and may be the last sector to reopen. In a situation of a necessary economic recovery, our industry must be able to play its key role. Insecurity is threatening already the exhibitions planned for the autumn as companies hesitate to confirm their participation,” says Van der Sluis. 

EMECA points out the European exhibition industry needs assistance and massive financial support from the national governments and the EU, such as exemption from rent, charges, subsidies, loans and incentives for exhibitors’ and buyers’ participation in the future. This vital support to the sector is needed as, complementary to the large venues and organisers, its ecosystem is composed mostly of SMEs like stand-construction, freight-forwarding, catering, interpretation and hostess services. EMECA members estimate that it may take at least 2-3 years to get back to the previous level of activity. 

Reopening exhibitions, at the latest from 1 September onwards, is essential and all necessary health and sanitary measures are ready to be implemented, EMECA underlines. 

“Concepts to conduct B2B and B2C events under highest standard of health and safety have been developed by the EMECA venues. Additionally, lifting travel restrictions is the prerequisite for B2B tradefairs, here action needs to be aligned within the EU and globally.” notes Barbara Weizsäcker, EMECA Secretary General, who adds that businesses are waiting for their marketplaces to open again, their foremost marketing and selling or sourcing channel for relaunching their business. Also, among the exhibitors there are many SMEs whose business relies on exhibitions. 

EMECA’s 24 venue members host and organise over 1,800 trade fairs a year globally.