One of the industries that was severely affected by the restrictions imposed to stop the spread of coronavirus COVID-19, was the exhibition business. Spring yacht shows around the world were at best postponed to summer, autumn or even the beginning of 2021, and at worst simply cancelled. The last major international event was the Miami Boat Show, traditionally held in February by the American National Association of Boat, Marine Engine and Accessory Manufacturers NMMA.
On the threshold of summer the organizers of the exhibitions can be divided into three camps according to how they see the near future of their indifference: cautious optimists, pessimists and innovators.
From May 15 to 17, China's Changsha city, the capital of Hunan Province, successfully hosted Construction Expo, the first exhibition in the country since the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic, the epicenter of which, by the way, was Hubei Province, neighboring Hunan.
On an area of 90,000 square meters, 2,156 companies exhibited their products. The visitors of the exhibition were 186 thousand people.
Only local companies could take part in the exhibition - as everywhere else in the world, China's borders are still closed. But this first positive experience can certainly serve as a hope for the other organizers for an early recovery from the crisis.
Optimists in the niche of shipbuilding include, for example, the organizers of the Korea International Boat Show, Cannes Yachting Festival, Grand Pavois La Rochelle, Genoa International Boat Show, International BoatBuilders' Exhibition and Conference, Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. At the moment, all these exhibitions are planned to be held on time, as planned, despite the difficult epidemiological situation. We will have to take some measures to ensure the safety of visitors, but the organizers are ready for it.
Korea International Boat Show (June 5-7)
KIBS, combined with the KOFISH Fishing Show, and the one-day business forum that preceded it, will take place at the KINTEX exhibition centre in Seoul. 85% of last year's exhibitors voted for KIBS to be held.
As of 23 May, 786 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed since the beginning of the epidemic in the city, 604 people have recovered and four have died. A total of 11190 cases of infection were confirmed in the country. 10213 people have recovered, 266 have died. Since May 1, the number of new cases detected in the country per day has only once exceeded 30.
KIBS will be the first yacht show in Asia since February. Due to closed borders only local companies will be able to take part. The KIBS exhibition area will be smaller this year, but the event will still occupy three halls at once at KINTEX.
Exhibitors do not pay for their participation, but pledge to participate in KIBS 2021.
Tickets for the exhibition are only sold remotely. This allows the organizers to distribute the flow of people, since not only the day is booked, but also a specific time of visit. In 2019, the exhibition was visited by about 41 thousand guests.
Cannes Yachting Festival (8-13 September)
In France, events involving more than 5000 people are planned to be allowed from September, so the largest water show in Europe, held annually in Cannes, hopes to reoccupy the Old Port and Port of Canto. The organizers plan to strengthen the water connection between the two halves of the exhibition this year and even add a new food zone.
«Many of the clients I have talked to hope that the Yachting Festival can be the light at the end of the tunnel. And even if there's still a lot to do to open this year's Yachting Festival, this hope is our goal",»says Show Manager Sylvie Ernoult.
The organizers of the Cannes Yachting Festival will help to formulate the provisions of a general guide for exhibition organizers in the new environment, which will be adopted in France at the national level. The presence of a mask will be an obligatory condition for visiting the exhibition. Guests will be offered water-alcoholic gels, and all areas where visitors are located will undergo enhanced disinfection on a daily basis. At the entrances to the exhibition, systems for recording and/or distributing the flow of guests will appear. The organizers hope that they will be able to hold the exhibition in compliance with all recommendations and restrictions imposed by the coronavirus distribution.
On the eve of the exhibition International Boat Industry is going to hold a one-day summit for industry leaders to discuss the market recovery from the coronavirus epidemic. For reasons of distance, the number of guests will be limited to 120.
However, according to our data, the future of Cannes Yachting Festival may not be as cloudless as the organizers draw.
Several major British shipyards who are not prepared to risk the health of their clients are intent on refusing to participate in the exhibition. This could lead to a chain of refusals by major market players, which would eventually either lead to the cancellation of the Cannes Yachting Festival or to a significantly reduced format.
Grand Pavois La Rochelle (September 29 - October 4)
One of the most popular French autumn exhibitions on the Atlantic coast of the country, which annually attracts about 800 exhibitors and 85 thousand guests to La Rochelle, is also to be held on time.
The Grand Pavois is eagerly awaited by local manufacturers - their products are already in demand in France, although navigation for yachtsmen is still limited to 100 nautical miles from the home marina.
Since it is not known now, in 4 months, whether free movement between countries will be allowed by the end of September and what preventive measures will be mandatory for visitors and participants of public events, the organizers are working out several scenarios on which the exhibition can be held.
The state of uncertainty has already led to the deadline for the first installment for exhibitors being shifted from 14 April to 31 May. The Board of Directors also compensated the exhibitors for all additional advance deposits.
International BoatBuilders' Exhibition and Conference (29 September - 1 October)
The B2B IBEX trade show in Tampa, Florida is the largest of its kind in North America. This year she will traditionally occupy 3 halls at Tampa Convention Center. As elsewhere in the world, the exhibition will be held in compliance with the sanitary measures and restrictions that are mandatory in the country and state at the end of September. IBEX registration for participants and guests will open in June.
«Over the past 30 years, we have held the exhibition in three cities, survived several hurricanes, a period of serious recession in the economy. Now we have to deal with the challenges of the coronavirus. If we have to change the IBEX format with the utmost attention to the health and safety of our exhibitors, sponsors and visitors, we will make an announcement," says Exhibition»Director Anne Dunbar.
Genoa International Boat Show (October 1-6)
The organizers of the exhibition in Italian Genoa have moved the event from September to October and are thinking of adjusting the exhibition dates again. It is now planned that it will last 6 days, and changing the dates to October 3-11 (9 days) will reduce the number of visitors per day and comply with distance requirements, but not reduce the number of visitors to the exhibition as a whole. The exhibition space itself will also be designed to enable exhibitors and visitors to comply with coronavirus prevention regulations.
In Germany, the international shipbuilding exhibition SMM, which is held in Hamburg every two years, has been postponed from 8-11 September 2020 to 2-5 February 2021. Usually the site attracts more than 2200 participants and 50 thousand visitors.
Monaco Yacht Show
The Monaco Yacht Show on September 23-26 was in jeopardy after two major superyacht associations - the SYBAss (Superyacht Builders Association) and the LYBRA (Large Yacht Brokers Association) - withdrew from the show. Members of the associations fear that the increasing annual costs of participation in the pandemic may not be justified. They believe that Informa should abandon the MYS, which is likely to not attract enough visitors, which will adversely affect both the reputation of the exhibition and the reputation of the industry as a whole. In addition, key MYS exhibitors doubt that the organizers will be able to provide adequate measures for social distance.
In turn, the organizers of the Monaco Yacht Show say that they work closely with the authorities of the country and are able to conduct the event in accordance with the highest standards of cleanliness and safety.
On 25 May Informa also published a statement that this year's Monaco Expo will be held on a non-profit basis and will help to support exhibitors in times of crisis.
Palm Beach International Boat Show
Despite the problems with the organization of the Monaco Yacht Show, Informa has already successfully held the Palm Beach Show and Congress of American Shipbuilders in the United States on May 14-17. However, all the events were held exclusively in a remote format.
The online translation of the show, which was attended by about 450 companies, was completed in less than 4 weeks.
The remote format, of course, does not allow a test drive. But otherwise the exhibition was very similar to its analogue «prototype». Visitors received hundreds of video walks on the new yachts and could ask questions to the representatives of the companies at any time.
Nothing is known about the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show format (October 28 - November 1). But apparently, in case of unforeseen circumstances, nothing will prevent Informa from holding the exhibition as virtually as the Palm Beach Show.
Korea International Boat Show
The organizers plan to supplement the June International Boat Show, which will be generally held in the traditional format, with live broadcasts from the exhibition and the publication of videos recorded during the show. An online listing of exhibitors and their products is also planned.
It is expected that these measures will help increase the profit of exhibitors at the end of the exhibition. We can definitely say that it will increase the number of «visitors» to the exhibition, as it will give an opportunity to look at it to those who are outside South Korea.