Coronavirus forces IMEX Frankfurt to cancel with a ‘heavy heart’

The organisers of IMEX Frankfurt have announced the show set for May will not go on as planned following a surge in coronavirus cases across Europe.

The announcement comes soon after IMEX Group Chairman Ray Bloom and CEO Carina Bauer said they were confident the show would go on.

But fast-moving events across Europe which has seen Italy shut its borders and numbers in Germany, France and Spain spike, have forced their hand. Germany has also called for a ban on events with over 1000 people.

“It is with deep sadness and heavy hearts that we announce the cancellation of this year’s IMEX in Frankfurt,” they said in a statement.

“We know that this will come as an enormous disappointment, not only to the exhibitors, buyers and industry professionals who were due to attend the show, but also to the global business events community.

“Whilst only a short time ago we felt optimistic that May was far enough away to confidently proceed with our plans, as it stands today we cannot guarantee the one thing that our exhibitors trust us above all else to deliver – namely a large-scale, high quality hosted buyer programme.

“In an ideal world we would wait and see. But we are in the real world and we cannot, in all good conscience, ask our exhibitors to continue to invest money against which they may not get a return.”

The IMEX team is still working to deliver IMEX America on September 15-17.

German Convention Bureau chief Matthias Schultze said they recognised it “was a tough decision” for the organisers.

“We are fully supportive of their decision and are confident that it was not taken lightly,” he said.

ICCA also shared its support of the decision.

“Whilst we at ICCA share the disappointment of this decision, we support Ray, Carina and the IMEX team in their leadership to take this bold and decisive action to minimise the impact to the event’s stakeholders, large and small,” ICCA president James Rees said.

“Together, we have a duty to collaborate at this time, acting reasonably and rescheduling events where possible, using our industry’s renowned creativity to seek alternative solutions or formats to our events where necessary. Our industry will recover and emerge from this in due course and continue to deliver great outcomes to event audiences worldwide.”

Kai Hattendorf, CEO of UFI, said the industry was resilient.

“Market places and meeting places are the core driver of business,” he said. “For our industry to bounce back from the corona slump, our own market places and meeting places will as well be our fastest fast track to recovery.

“We are a resilient industry. We have shown that in the past, we will show that again. We are all in this together.”