Covid-19 has forced Swiss events sector onto ‘edge of a precipice’

The Geneva International Motor Show was one of the first major events to be cancelled in Switzerland last February due to the pandemic. Keystone / Salvatore Di Nolfi

The Swiss events sector contracted by almost two-thirds last year due to the cancellation of over 17,000 projects as a result of the pandemic, a survey has revealed. It also caused almost 4,500 job losses.

This content was published on March 8, 2021 - 14:49, Keystone-SDA/sb

As in many other countries, the people running and organising events and fairs in Switzerland had an annus horribilis in 2020. This year could be equally difficult, warns a Swiss associationExternal link that carried out a survey among 153 companies active in the sector.

“One year after Covid-19 turned life upside down in Switzerland, the salon and events sector in Switzerland finds itself on the edge of a precipice,” it said in a statement.

In 2020 over 17,000 projects were cancelled, resulting in a 57% drop in turnover to CHF2.37 billion ($2.54 billion), the Swiss LiveCom Expo Event association said on Monday.

Almost 4,460 people lost their jobs in 2020 among the 18,540 people working in the sector.

In all, 220 companies stopped their business activities or changed direction.

The cancellation of fairs, salons, events and conferences resulted in a CHF10 billion loss in added value, the association said. Salons and conferences generally result in additional revenue for tourism, hotels and restaurants, as well as the transport, retail and other service sectors.

‘New cancellations’ ahead

In 2021, the organisers of business fairs and salons have already cancelled over 35 projects, which amount to an estimated loss of CHF220 million.

The association predicts a 33% drop in turnover for 2021 compared to 2019 (CHF5.56 billion) and additional job cuts.

“In view of the epidemiological and vaccination situations, the sector expects new cancellations of postponed projects,” it said.

The survey found that 73% of firms had received Covid-19 loans and 86% had short-time work arrangements. As of January, 15% of events firms have requested access to emergency government funds.

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