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IMEX to Exclude Russian State Attendees From Frankfurt Event

Skift Take

IMEX is the first major event industry show to exclude Russian participation.

In a statement shared on Tuesday across IMEX’s social media channels, the IMEX Group has “taken the decision to suspend Russian state enterprises from participating at IMEX in Frankfurt 2022, as a direct result of the current political situation.”

“We do this with a heavy heart, understanding that the world is in an unprecedented situation,” the group added.

IMEX joins the growing global response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine with economic sanctions and punitive measures.

The news Tuesday comes as a significant decision by the private show organizer as the group’s business model relies heavily on public funding and working directly with government bodies. The majority of the national pavilions that fill the aisles at both the IMEX in Frankfurt and IMEX America shows are contracted by destination marketing organizations (DMOs) at a national level with direct links to the government.

The 2022 IMEX in Frankfurt show was moved from its original April dates to the current 31 May – 2 June dates. It will be the first time that this major event industry gathering takes place since the start of the Covid pandemic, as both the 2020 and 2021 were canceled. The loss of revenue that would have normally come from Russian state enterprises is not insignificant to IMEX, but it’s hard to imagine a show with an official Russian presence of any kind in 2022, even if the conflict has been resolved by the start of the show.

Russia had been on schedule to host a number of major sporting events throughout 2022 including the Russian Formula One Grand Prix, now canceled, and the UEFA Champions League final, now taking place in Paris, France.

Pressure has been mounting for UFI, MPI, PCMA ILEA, and other international event industry associations to address the situation with one UFI board member issuing a call for international support. The International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) was the only major industry association to address the situation so far. It released on Tuesday a message from President James Rees, but made no mention of excluding Russian members from the organization or events going forward.

The online-only 2022 ITB Berlin Convention takes place March 8 through 10. With no physical exhibition taking place it remains to be seen if the scope and session content of the virtual convention will shift in the coming days.

IMEX statement is reflective of an industry that prides itself on facilitating connections. “We do this with a heavy heart, understanding that the world is in an unprecedented situation. Our hearts go out to everyone who is affected and especially the people of Ukraine. All of us wish for a speedy and peaceful resolution to this conflict.” Responses to the statement have been very positive with a number of event industry thought leaders applauding the statement.