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Organisers cancel IBTM Asia Pacific over coronavirus fears

The novel coronavirus COVID-19, which has claimed more than 2,100 lives, has forced the cancellation of a major meetings industry trade show.

Reed Travel Exhibitions’ inaugural IBTM Asia Pacific was due to take place in Singapore, April 6-8, but has been scrapped to protect the health of visitors. The event will now be held 13-14 April, 2021.

Singapore has the highest number of coronavirus cases – 81 as of February 20th – outside China.

Shane Hannam, portfolio director, IBTM Events, said: “This is not a decision we have taken lightly; our customers, partners and team in Singapore have worked incredibly hard on the event and while it is disappointing to postpone, it’s imperative that we prioritise the health and safety of everyone involved. We also recognize that business has to continue.  With this in mind, over the coming weeks, we will be creating ways of keeping our community connected to support and collaborate and to keep our world moving during this difficult period.”

IBTM Asia Pacific was the latest edition to the IBTM portfolio, which includes IBTM World Barcelona, (December 1-13), IBTM Americas (27-28 May), and IBTM China (26-27 August).

Dr Edward Koh, executive director, Conventions, Meetings and Incentive Travel, Singapore Tourism Board, said: “We understand and support IBTM Asia Pacific’s decision to reschedule their show to 2021, and we will work closely with Reed Travel Exhibitions and our partners to provide the assistance they need during this time. IBTM is a valued partner, and their Asia Pacific show remains a key highlight in Singapore’s event calendar. We look forward to extending a warm welcome to all attendees and exhibitors in 2021.”

Meanwhile the World Health Organization (WHO) has published a nine-page document with key recommendations for those planning large events in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Besides basic risk management advice, the document has advice on crowd density, how participants will interact, venue layout, registration, and the average age of attendees.

Taken from the WHO guidelines:

  • Participants and staff should stay away from events when ill.
  • Promote hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, including with informational materials that reach a wide range of age groups and varying reading and educational levels.
  • Soap and water or alcohol hand-sanitizers and tissues should be easily accessible in all common areas, and especially in areas set aside for medical treatment.
  • Reduce crowding.
  • Isolate persons who become ill.
  • Where possible, event organisers should consider distancing measures to reduce close contact among people during a large event (e.g., increasing the frequency of transport and staggering arrivals and minimizing the number of people who congregate at one time at sanitary stations and food and water distribution areas).
  • Organisers should plan for the likelihood of persons becoming ill with fever and other symptoms of COVID-19. Establishing isolation areas in on-site medical treatment clinics/facilities where such persons can be initially assessed and triaged should be considered. Persons who are ill can be provided with a mask to help contain respiratory