Letter From IFES to the EU Commission Regarding The COVID-19 Virus

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The reason why we are contacting you today is the precautionary cancellation of trade fair events due to the risk assessment of the CoVid-19 virus for the population, which thusly affects trade fair exhibitors and visitors. According to the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry – AUMA – (www.auma.de), 614 European trade fairs are planned for March and April. These range from smaller events to leading worldwide trade shows, such as Light + Building, Salone de Mobile, and the Geneva Motor Show. A large part of these trade shows have now been cancelled or postponed with no certainty if they’re going to take place in the year 2020.

If we only restrict ourselves to trade fairs with an international presence, events with rented exhibition space of around 3 million square meters have been cancelled. This means that European trade show construction companies and their service providers have been deprived of a sales volume of around EUR 750 million for the next two months, based on the conservative figure of EUR 250 per square meter for stand construction expenses. This figure only applies to the months of March and April. Since restrictions are also expected at least in May, the billion mark will probably be exceeded.

The trade fair construction industry in Europe has a polypolistic structure, which means that there are no clear market leaders. Furthermore, the industry mainly consists of SMEs with sales well below EUR 10 million, rarely above EUR 50 million. If these companies are now confronted with sales losses of 15 to 25 % of their annual turnover – the months of March and April have always been the strongest months for trade fairs – this will lead to redundancies, and in the worst case to insolvencies. In other words, well over 1,000 companies/existences and tens of thousands of jobs are at risk.

In order to counter this danger of unemployment, we call on the European Union to provide unbureaucratic funding for trade fair service providers affected by the cancellation of trade fairs throughout Europe. The quality of European trade fairs must be ensured in the long term and this is only possible with competent service providers. At this point we would like to quote the current UFI President Mary Larkin who once again points out the importance of trade fairs for medium-sized companies:

“The exhibitions and events industry exists to provide platforms for people and industries to meet, to trade, and to collaborate. These gatherings are especially important in times of disruption. It is our obligation to maintain opportunities for people to meet wherever possible. Small and medium businesses in all industries in-particular depend on exhibitions. And, like all types of events, they support the economy worldwide. We, as representatives of the exhibitions industry, are committed to providing these much-needed meeting places around the world, wherever we can do so.”