Exhibition aisles at h+h Cologne in 2019
The international trade fair for creative handicraft & hobby supplies h+h Cologne has been postponed, citing health and safety concerns around the novel coronavirus. Originally scheduled for March 20-22, 2020, the event will now be held March 26-28, 2021. This cancellation follows on the heels of other trade show postponements, including Salone del Mobile, the world’s largest furniture fair.
In a statement, h+h organizers shared that they are following the recommendation issued by the Crisis Team of the City of Cologne. “The decision was taken against the backdrop of a risk assessment carried out individually for this event based on the current recommendation of the Robert Koch Institute (public health institute in Germany) for major events. The numbers, structure and origins of exhibitors and visitors play a role in these assessments, as does the spatial situation in the exhibition halls,” the organizers said.
“Added to this is the uncertainty of many customers and the complicated travel situation, especially for international participants. Against this background, it is not possible for us to provide a functioning trade fair as a place to experience industry highlights and a forum for international business contacts,” said h+h organizers.
As the world’s largest trade show for craft supplies, h+h drew 16,500 trade visitors from 80 countries in 2019. h+h organizers confirm that all paid tickets will be refunded automatically in the coming weeks.
Trade shows facing disruption
Nick Vyas, executive director of the center for global supply chain management at USC Marshall School of Business believes there will be a “significant impact” on the conference industry this year due to coronavirus. “It’ll disrupt the ecosystem supported by the trade shows and conferences,” said Vyas.
The World Health Organization (WHO) updated its recommendations for international travel in relation to COVID-19 outbreak last week. “WHO continues to advise against the application of travel or trade restrictions to countries experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks,” says the report. “It is prudent for travelers who are sick to delay or avoid travel to affected areas, in particular for elderly travelers and people with chronic diseases or underlying health conditions.”
The WHO recommendations strongly encourage taking steps to reduce the risk of transmission, such as frequent hand washing, avoiding touching your face, maintaining at least 3 feet distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
Show organizers planning ahead
Other craft industry trade shows and events are going ahead as planned. In the days before their annual conference, the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) made an announcement about health concerns. “We understand that people are concerned about the new coronavirus (COVID-19). To date, there have been no reports of infections in the regions of Washington DC, Maryland or Virginia. While it would not be responsible to say that any public gathering is beyond risk, we are working with the Greater Richmond Convention Center to ensure that resources are present to provide the best and safest experiences for our conference attendees,” the NCECA said in their update.
Quilt Market is also continuing preparations for their Pittsburgh show. “We at Quilts, Inc. are closely monitoring news and events surrounding the outbreak of Coronavirus in the U.S. and overseas, and how it could impact travel to and from our upcoming spring International Quilt Market in Pittsburgh (May 15-17) and summer International Quilt Festival in Long Beach (July 9-11),” reads a statement from the showrunners.
“We have initiated discussions with the David L. Lawrence Convention Center and our host hotels in Pittsburgh about additional sanitary/personal hygiene protections that can be incorporated on-site,” said Bob Ruggiero, VP of Communications at Quilts, Inc. “We’ll be doing the same with the Long Beach Convention center and host hotel,” said Ruggiero.
“At this time, both shows are absolutely going ahead with no plans to cancel, alter the dates, or change the location for either one. However, please be assured that the health and well-being of our exhibitors, teachers, and attendees will always be our foremost concern,” said Quilt Market officials.
Erin is the textile designer and artist behind the home décor company, Cotton & Flax. She licenses her surface designs for fabric, home décor, stationery, and other clients. She’s also a teacher, writer, and enthusiastic advocate for small creative business owners. She lives in San Diego, California.