“It is with our greatest regret and with some misunderstanding that we are therefore forced to announce the cancellation of the Yachting Festival 2020.”
So began a statement from organizers of the Cannes Yachting Festival on the dissolution of the show, which was slated to be held Sept. 8-13 at Vieux Port and Port Canto.
Reed Exhibitions had spent the last several months confident that the show would take place — they were among the first outfits in France to receive the “safe and clean” certification put forth as a trade industry standard and certified via the nation’s health ministry.
Things continued looked good late last month, boosted by an announcement by the French minister of foreign trade who decreed that after Sept. 1, trade shows could be held without limits on the number of visitors as long as safe and clean certification was followed to the letter.
But a spike in cases in the Alpes-Maritimes region of the country led to the French government to reversing course and cap the limit the holding of events of more than 5,000 people until Oct. 30.
What happened next is less clear. Last week, two meetings took place between prefectural authorities, the City of Cannes, the Regional Health Authority, safety services and Reed Expositions France.
At the first meeting on Monday, things looked good, according to Reed Expositions: the plan for the show was “deemed satisfactory” with a follow-up meeting to be held on-site on Thursday.
“Unfortunately, following a new meeting on site in Cannes Thursday afternoon, in the presence of the Prefect [Alpes-Maritimes Prefét Bernard Gonzales] the only person empowered to rule in fine, the latter decided not to give the expected exemption, thus making it impossible to hold the Yachting Festival,” organizers said.
Show director Sylvie Ernoult explained: “The implementation of the health protocol that we drew up, certified by APAVE and recognized as completely satisfactory by the prefecture’s services and the Regional Health Authority would have made the 2020 Yachting Festival one of the safest events in terms of health in France. Also, it is with great surprise and incomprehension that we take note of the prefect’s decision
However, according to daily French newspaper, Nice-Matin, Gonzales said, “I have not canceled anything at all,” and said the blame lies with Reed. He explained that he only denied the exemption to expand the event to accommodate 15,000 guests (from the 5,000 decreed by the French government).
Whatever may have occurred, organizers seem to be left frustrated and confused.
“This decision is a huge disappointment for the entire nautical industry, with exhibitors in the lead, the City of Cannes and its professionals, the show’s service providers and the Reed team, who have worked together relentlessly for months to prepare the 2020 edition in the best possible conditions taking into account the context,” Ernoult said.