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German trade fair industry demands concept for re-star

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· AUMA Chairman Harting: Exhibitors and organisers need a concrete perspective
· Industry platforms of the companies should not be closed any longer
· Tried and tested standards for health protection need to be reactivated only

The trade fair industry demands a timely perspective for its new start as a result of the Conference of the Federal States’ Prime Ministers scheduled for 3 March 2021. Exactly one year ago, the first exhibitions had to be cancelled due to Corona; since the beginning of March 2020, the industry has been at a standstill - with a brief interruption. Part of the re-start is to reclassify exhibitions as business platforms, in accordance with the decision of the federal and state governments on 6 May 2020.

As was the case ten months ago, the opening up of the retail sector should also mean that trade fairs should be permitted again in principle, because there are very similar business processes and spatial structures in both sectors, according to the Chairman of AUMA – Association of the German Trade Fair Industry, Philip Harting. "Trade fairs are instruments for initiating business, presenting innovations and negotiating cooperation. This is especially true for small and medium-sized companies as the backbone of the German economy. These companies in particular have suffered considerable economic losses due to trade fair cancellations. Companies urgently need their industry platforms."

In addition, trade fairs could stimulate the willingness of the badly damaged retail trade to purchase. In order for trade fairs to fulfil these functions, however, exhibitors and organisers needed a concrete basis for planning.

Reactivate proven standards for health protection

Particularly because of the long lead times for organising a trade fair politicians are called upon to create in time reliable framework conditions based on the already existing regulations. Philip Harting: "Last year, the federal states issued ordinances with detailed regulations for organising trade fairs. Based on this, the exhibition companies developed corresponding concepts for health protection and coordinated these with the responsible health authorities. On this basis, more than 20 fairs were held successfully and safely last autumn. These regulations only need to be reactivated."

The basis for the permission of trade fairs at that time had been in particular the excellent framework conditions that exhibition centres offer, such as spacious areas to control the flow of visitors, modern ventilation systems and the full registration of all participants. These standards, which in some cases exceed the requirements for the retail trade, should be evaluated correspondingly highly in the decision for the renewed permission of trade fairs.

However, a palpable perspective for the opening of the hotel and catering businesses is just as necessary for a successful start of the trade fair operations. As soon as the development of the infection figures allows it, cross-border business travel should also be possible again without relevant restrictions in order to ensure a basic level of internationality at the trade fairs. However, regional exhibitions, which can often be organised at comparatively short notice, are relevant for many economic sectors and for consumers, too. Early successful implementation of such events would have an important signal effect for the entire exhibition business.

Author: AUMA
Photo: CARAVAN Salon 2020 in Düsseldorf - Photo © Messe Düsseldorf/ctillmann

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