Brussels called off, expo organisers confirm

The Scottish pavilion at the Brussels seafood show last year - demand has been hit by the Covid-19 outbreak

THE world’s biggest seafood exhibition, due to be held in Brussels next month, has been called off, as expected, due to coronavirus fears.

Seafood Expo Global, scheduled to run in the Belgian capital for the last time this year before moving to Barcelona in 2021, attracted nearly 30,000 visitors from 155 countries in 2019.

This afternoon, the Belgian prime minister, Sophie Wilmes, recommended that indoor events with more than 1,000 attendees should be cancelled, to mitigate the risk of coronavirus, or Covid-19, spreading.

This put added pressure on Diversified Communications, organiser of the expo, which said yesterday it would make a final decision today on whether or not to proceed with the annual event, which was to run from April 21-23.

Liz Plizga, group vice president of Diversified Communications, confirmed this evening that the event would be postponed.

‘Due to the magnitude of the unanticipated public health and safety issues posed by the rapidly escalating Covid-19 outbreaks and contagion, we have no choice but to postpone the upcoming edition.

‘In order to preserve business continuity for our community, we will communicate the new 2020 dates by no later than March 18, 2020, and will post the dates on our website as well.’

Diversified Communications said on its website: ‘We value the support of everyone involved in the making of this event – ­­ our vendors, the local authorities, the venue and, most of all, our partners, friends and customers in the seafood industry.

‘We are looking forward to getting this strong seafood community back together in the near future. Until then, we send heartfelt thoughts to those who are affected by Covid-19.’

Last week, the show organiser was forced to cancel – or postpone – its other big seafood show, due to take place in Boston from March 15-17. Diversified said the event could be held later this year.

‘We are committed to finding a solution to deliver an event in North America, this year, to ensure business continuity to the seafood industry.

‘Details on when and where will be communicated directly with our customers in the next month.

‘Depending on date and location availability, the event might look slightly different for 2020 but will continue to provide the opportunities to connect suppliers and buyers in the industry.’

The spate of cancellations in the exhibition world has cost organisers and companies billions so far, according to the trade show association UFI.

UFI estimated global exhibition and events industry damage to date at 14.4 billion euros (£12.6 billion), with businesses possibly losing 23 billion euros in missed deals as a result of cancelled shows.