Unclear communication hindering restart of events

Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Organisers of international events threaten withdrawal: major effects for economy

The lack of clarity from the Dutch government in its communication about the rules for multi-day events until 1 September is having a major impact on the upcoming international business gatherings. The fact that no distinction is made between events with and without overnight stays on the event premises is causing serious confusion among organisers who are now considering either cancelling or moving their events, says RAI Amsterdam.

Before the pandemic, RAI Amsterdam organised and facilitated some 600 international and national exhibitions and conferences a year. Every euro of turnover in the RAI translated into a turnover of eight euros for the Amsterdam Metropolitan Region in the form of hotel accommodations and spending in hospitality venues and shops in the capital and beyond. Annually, this represented a boost of 1.3 billion euros for the Dutch economy while RAI Amsterdam also makes a significant contribution to employment in the region.

Economic impact
As a result of the strict measures to combat COVID, RAI Amsterdam has been unable to organise or facilitate (inter)national events and conferences for 1.5 years. Unclear communication on the Dutch government websites Rijksoverheid.nl and Government.nl is now threatening to extend the economic impact. “Multi-day events with overnight stays on the premises are approached in the same way as events with overnight stays elsewhere, which is what we offer at the RAI,” says CEO Paul Riemens. “International organisers now believe there is a general ban on multi-day events, while the regulations say that business events like ours can actually take place. The way information is being communicated is causing confusion all around.”

As a result, organisers are now considering cancelling or moving their events, with sponsors also looking to withdraw too. Riemens: “From September onwards, we have 16 major international multi-day events planned in the RAI before the end of the year. The cancellation of these events would have a huge economic impact on the RAI, the city of Amsterdam and the Netherlands.” Riemens also emphasises that business events contribute to the global exchange of knowledge and expertise, and are not in the highest category with regards to the risk of infection. In a letter to Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte, RAI Amsterdam appeals to the government to adapt the texts on the websites Rijksoverheid.nl and Government.nl and put an end to the confusion.

Paul Riemens emphasized the importance of this topic in the morning broadcast of BNR (spoken in Dutch).