/ MEDIA STATEMENT / This content is not written by Creamer Media, but is a supplied media statement.
The exhibitions and events industry was given a lifeline with the announcement by the South African Government that the country was moving to Alert Level 1 of the Risk Adjusted Approach on 21 September 2020. Events could now take place under certain restrictions with a 50% capacity allowed in venues, up to a maximum number of 250 people indoors and 500 people outdoors.
Even though these numbers are low, it is a starting point for the industry, which has seen most exhibitions and events planned for 2020 either postponed or cancelled due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
With the easing of restrictions, there is now an opportunity to demonstrate to government, business SA and other stakeholder groups that exhibitions and events can be hosted safely, with all the required COVID-19 health and safety protocols in place.
The Restart Expo is a small scale exhibition designed by Specialised Exhibitions and Johannesburg Expo Centre as a showcase for government, industry, media, PCO’s, exhibitors and visitors to see what exhibitions will look like post COVID-19.
Taking place at the Johannesburg Expo Centre in Nasrec, Johannesburg, from 25-26 November, there will be about thirty exhibitors taking part representing the industry and industry suppliers, amongst others. There will also be a seminar theatre, a meeting area and a business lounge on the exhibition floor. All will be designed with social distancing in mind and full COVID-19 protocols will be in place. A stage will be set-up in the seminar theatre with all equipment required for speaker presentations. The speaker programme will focus on topics related to the business tourism industry with the purpose of creating dialogue around business concerns and solutions.
The exhibition has the support of UFI - the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, the Association of African Exhibition Organisers (AAXO), and exhibition industry suppliers.
“The Restart Expo is an opportunity for government authorities and officials to attend the show to see how exhibitions and events can be held in strict accordance with COVID-19 protocols and requirements, and be confident that the exhibitions and events industry is ready to move ahead and reopen,” says Craig Newman, Group Chief Executive Officer of GL Events South Africa and former President of UFI. “There really is no reason to keep the industry closed. We have big facilities available, we are professionals and we are able to ensure compliance to COVID-19 protocols.”
“As leaders in the exhibitions and events industry, the Restart Expo reflects Johannesburg Expo Centre’s commitment to the industry and its forward-thinking leadership,” says Newman. “Working together with Specialised Exhibitions, we will be the first to hold an event of this nature in South Africa post the COVID-19 lockdown. It will be a showcase of what is possible; demonstrating to South Africa and to the world how our exhibitions and events industry can reopen, safely, with all the required COVID-19 protocols in place. It is a platform to rebuild confidence in the industry.”
UFI explains that unlike many other types of large events, the format of an exhibition allows the organisers to structure and steer the visitors to the event on all steps of their journey – from their registration, to their arrival on site and entry, to the way they navigate show floors, meetings spaces, and auditoriums, as well as the catering and sanitary options available to them. Exhibition venues are designed specifically to host this type of event and to manage visitors to their site according to strict local authority security policies and international safety standards. Adding further measures to ensure COVID-19 regulation compliance will not be difficult to do.
As a forum for trading, networking, learning and product sourcing, exhibitions are the marketplaces and meeting places for entire industries – regionally, nationally, and internationally. Globally, exhibitions are a much-needed fast track to drive the economic recovery after COVID-19 – especially for small and medium-sized enterprises, who represent the backbone of every economy and for whom exhibitions and face-to-face events are a leading sales channel, says UFI. In addition to the industries they serve, exhibitions also contribute to regional development and generate revenue for the travel and tourism sector, as well as hotels, restaurants, retail and transportation.
Trade shows and exhibitions are likely to come back even stronger than before. The face-to-face format generates sales leads for exhibitors, enables them to demonstrate their capabilities and is an opportunity to meet with their largest clients and potential new customers.
“Exhibitions and events will be important as business gets back on track and companies prepare for a post-COVID-19 recovery,” says Newman. “The demand from the corporate side is already there. Now they can come and have a look. The Restart Expo will give them the confidence they need to get back to exhibiting in 2021.”