UFI webinar: Covid-19,
an update from Asia
EW tuned in to UFI’s latest webinar, which provided a welcome link
and update to the industry in Asia as it reacts to the coronavirus threat.
There were many insights and lessons for those joining remotely
our senior UFI members
offered local updates
during an UFI webinar:
Covid-19, Update from
Asia, 27 March, for which 360 of their
global industry peers tuned in to hear
about the impact of the coronavirus
on businesses and local markets.
It was also an opportunity to ask
questions and compare experiences.
The webinar was part of a series
of regional updates from UFI and its
Regional Manager Asia/Pacific, Mark
Cochrane moderated the 75-minute
session from Hong Kong.
First up was Michael Kruppe,
General Manager at Shanghai New
International Exhibition Center
(SNIEC) who traced the affects of
the coronavirus on China and the
exhibition business in particular.
He painted a vivid picture of 600m
Chinese people’s travel plans being
initially curtailed over New Year as
the country locked down to stop the
disease spreading, but said that daily
life was now returning to something
approaching normal in Shanghai.
“Around 80% of office staff are back
at work,” he said and described the
government’s stringent ‘traffic light’
measures for disease control.
Although internal transmission of
the disease is almost negligible, he said
foreigners were now not allowed in to
China, something Kruppe thought was
wise, given that waits of up to 50 hours
have been common for entry arrivals
via the necessary quarantine hotels.
SNIEC had zero exhibition business
for the February-April period,
Kruppe reported, with most shows
being postponed. “We are hoping for
Issue 2 2020
something in May maybe,” he said,
and welcomed the news that Tier 2
city Shenyang’s exhibition centre had
received permission to start operating
again. He explained the measure was
likely a way of testing the waters as
few foreigners would be involved,
given that pressure on decision-
makers to not give the green light too
early was immense.
“We are working daily with Chinese
local government explaining how we
are getting prepared [for restarting],”
said Kruppe. “But we are rigorously
implementing the government
restrictions in order to protect visitors.
We follow protocols and are protecting
our venues, even though they may be
empty,” he said.
Kruppe also explained the use
of mobile technology and QR codes
with GPS tracking for keeping tabs on
visitors and their health status. “This
system is working very well,” he said.
Balasubramanian S Pillai, President
of the Indian Exhibition Industry
Association (IEIA) asked whether
Kruppe expected shows to shrink or
grow when the situation “comes back
Kruppe answered the situation
was complex, given that a typical
large show could have 30% foreign
participation in Shanghai, which
meant the domestic stakeholders had
to be convinced it would still be worth
going ahead. It could be that the first
shows in the new ‘normal’ had small
square meterage, he admitted.
Elucidating on the green shoots
of good news from Shenyang, Diane
Chen, General Manager at Shenyang
New World Expo, in Liaoning
province, confirmed the centre had
been told by authorities the ban on
exhibitions there had been lifted, with
the city reporting no new Covid-19
cases for 28 days. The first show could
be organised by Shanghai Modern on
27-29 April, she believed.
Michael Duck, Informa Exhibitions
Asia, took up the theme, greeting
the UFI community and noting “it
seems a long time since Rome and the
w w w.exhibitionworld.co.uk