IFEAT has made the difficult decision to postpone its annual Conference which was due to be held from 11th to 15th October 2020 by just under one year due to the COVID-19 crisis. The new dates are 12th to 16th September 2021.
IFEAT’s Chairman, Hussein Fakhry, explained; “The IFEAT Executive Committee has discussed, as a matter of urgency, the current situation with regard to the COVID-19 outbreak. After very careful consideration and evaluation of all possible scenarios from data and information available, IFEAT has come to the conclusion that having the Berlin Conference in October 2020 as planned is no longer a viable or safe option. Under no circumstance, even assuming the most optimistic outcome in the shortest period of time, will IFEAT put the safety and wellbeing of its members, colleagues, partners and staff at risk; at the moment and for the foreseeable future, we do not have a way to guarantee that safety and wellbeing if we held the Conference this October.”
This crisis has significantly affected the meetings industry throughout the world. As destinations work to contain the spread of the virus, many countries, states and cities have banned large events. “It is therefore, with regret that we need to inform our members that we have made this difficult but appropriate decision to postpone the Conference which was due to be held at the InterContinental Hotel, Berlin from 11th to 15th October 2020. We hope that our members understand our wish to avoid further uncertainty and do not wish to delay this difficult decision any longer,” said Mr Fakhry.
Chairman of the Berlin Conference Committee, Jens-Achim Protzen, said; “It will be good if the situation has returned to normal by October for many countries, however many may still be affected and unable to travel. As an international federation, we need our annual IFEAT Conference to be successful for our delegates and accessible to each of them wherever they are located around the world, but at this current time it is not possible to predict whether any countries will still have travel bans and whether borders will be closed somewhere in the world.”
Mr Protzen continued; “We would like to thank our members for their cooperation and understanding during these trying times. Despite this difficult situation, we appreciate their support and we are working hard to ensure the postponed IFEAT Berlin Conference will be a success. In the interim, we are considering alternative concepts to bridge the time between now and Berlin 2021.”
Alastair Hitchen, President of IFEAT said; “All of the work that has already been done in planning for the Conference will be transferred to 2021. The Executive Committee is extremely grateful to the Berlin Committee, the Destination Management Company, the InterContinental and satellite hotels, the IFEAT staff and our contractors, who have all worked extremely hard to organise the Conference. We would like to thank them in advance for their continued work in order to make IFEAT Berlin 2021 a great success.”
This is the first time in 43 years that an IFEAT annual Conference has been postponed, but the federation believes it is the best action to take given the current situation, to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of everyone within its community.