In recent days, we have received many enquiries about the INTERNATIONAL HARDWARE FAIR in connection with the global discussion around the appearance of the coronavirus, which presents a major challenge for Koelnmesse as well as for the entire industry.
We assure you that the INTERNATIONAL HARDWARE FAIR will take place from 1 to 4 March 2020 in Cologne.
The health of all trade fair participants is paramount. We continue to rely on the assessment of the German federal government and the international and German health authorities. While these unanimously advise caution and prevention, at present they still see no reason to restrict the organisation of major events in Germany. We will take all meaningful preventive measures and inform and assist our visitors and exhibitors, both in advance of and during the event.
This also means: A situation of force majeure does not exist in Germany. As organisers, we have an obligation to fulfil our agreements with our exhibitors and visitors, and to offer them the best forum possible, even under the current circumstances. We are doing this against the backdrop of the situation in Germany. Accordingly, the cancellation of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona a few days ago cannot serve as our standard of measure. Just yesterday, the German trade fair organisers confirmed in a joint statement that all upcoming trade fairs would be held as planned.
At this point in time, the specific impact of the current situation on the INTERNATIONAL HARDWARE FAIR is very difficult to assess. In Cologne, naturally there were discussions around the virus in recent days at the international trade fair for sweets and snacks ISM, ProSweets Cologne, spoga horse FASHION DAYS and several guest events, but in no way did these discussions affect the course of these events themselves. Ultimately, seven of around 70 expected Chinese exhibitors opted not to attend the ISM; there were some 300 Chinese visitors this year, compared to 400 at the preliminary event.
Of course, we all have to expect that the ongoing public debate will lead to disruptions by the time of the INTERNATIONAL HARDWARE FAIR. Currently, less than three percent of Chinese and non-Chinese exhibitors have cancelled – from among a total of some 3,000 companies expected to attend. Levels of visitor pre-registration are approximately at the same level as they were at the same juncture in the run-up to the previous event. We will be providing our visitors this same information and further strengthening our visitor canvassing from now until the start of the trade fair. What is certain is this: The Chinese authorities have strictly sealed off the vulnerable areas, and the low number of infections outside of China argues for the effectiveness of these measures.
We realise that these facts alone are not enough to change the emotional situation, or to reassure everyone involved. However, we firmly believe that calm action provides the industry with the best service of all. We will continue to monitor the situation in China and worldwide through our subsidiaries and foreign offices and will keep you informed.