By Samson Echenim
The World Ports Conference slated for March 17 to 19, 2020 in Antwerp, Blegium has been cancelled as coronavirus concerns continue unabated.
Promoters of the global shipping event, the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) said the difficult decision to cancel the epoch-making event followed extensive consultation with organiser IHS Markit and host sponsor, Port of Antwerp.
It said, given the spread of COVID-19, it had been necessary to cancel in the interests of the health and safety of speakers, sponsors and attendees.
“In addition, the recent increase in the number of speakers and participants impacted by immediate travel restrictions by their organisations influenced this decision,” IAPH noted.
“In recognition of the work that has gone into preparations for the event, other sponsors, speakers, colleagues and participants were also approached to share their views and opinions prior to the decision being made. We shall announce if it is feasible to postpone the event to another date in 2020 as soon as possible and make arrangements for re-arranging or refunding registrations and sponsorships,” IAPH said in a statement on Wednesday.
Santiago Garcia Milà, IAPH’s president was also quoted as saying that , “We are very sad about having to cancel the event. We took the joint decision out of concern for the well-being of all our participants. This is not just about health and safety concerns around the coronavirus. It’s also about how comfortable all our guests, presenters and colleagues feel about attending the conference at this current point in time.
“In recent days, we have also been receiving an increasing number of notifications from speakers and panelists of non-essential travel bans being implemented in their organizations. We can only expect this to increase in the coming days and weeks.”
Patrick Verhoeven, IAPH’s managing director added, “With over 450 delegates registered and speakers and experts already preparing for over 30 industry sessions, our wish is that everyone – without exception – can enjoy the conference and get the most out of their participation. For this reason, we are working to determine the viability of rescheduling this year.
“Our conference partner IHS Markit has advised us already that attendees who have registered for this year’s conference will be able to use their registration for the new date. Those who cannot come will be refunded. Equally, we very much hope the speakers, panelists, presenters and facilitators currently on the agenda will be able to join us at a later date to share with us the work they have already put in to making the IAPH World Ports Conference such a popular choice.”