Two things doomed the Cannes Yachting Festival, Reed Exhibitions said in a statement sent to press and show exhibitors.
First, a spike in Covid-19 cases in the Alpes-Maritimes region of the country prompted the French government to reverse course and cap the limit on events of more than 5,000 people until Oct. 30.
But, “the last-minute about-turn by the prefect, under the pressure of the health situation worsening, was the second blow to the Festival, and fatal,” organizers said.
An additional disagreement has now taken place between Reed and the Fédération des Industries Nautiques — France’s chief nautical organization — which called on Reed to reconsider its decision to cancel the event on Aug. 25.
“The FIN therefore calls today to save the 2020 edition of the Yachting Festival in the interest of the nautical industry and tourism professionals of the City of Cannes,” the organization said in a press release. “The cancellation decision came as the boats were on their way to Cannes. In this context, the FIN urgently asks Reed Expositions to reconsider its decision and to consider maintaining an event meeting new organizational conditions, in conjunction with the City of Cannes and the prefectural authorities.”
Reed calls FIN’s actions “irresponsible and cruel,” and said the organization has miscalculated crowd sizes and the ability to put on a successful show under the now-stricter guidelines.
“[FIN’s call] to hold the Yachting Festival at all costs, is based on completely incorrect evaluations of the figures. These obvious miscalculations are even more incredible as FIN knows the Yachting Festival very well. We are entitled to wonder what objectives FIN is pursuing” said Reed Expositions.
Reed says that the solutions provided to the local government were to essentially absorb the crowds into three zones — two at Vieux Port and one at Port Canto — and stay under the 5,000-person size limit. They had also scheduled vigorous cleaning of site spaces, taking the temperature of all visitors and exhibitors, hand sanitizer positioned at myriad points, and other safety measures. But it wasn’t enough for the prefecture to approve.
“In the context of 2020, we did not expect any profit this year,” Reed said. “Our sole aim was to serve the French and European nautical industry, to provide some breathing space to the economy of Cannes and the region, and, lastly, to show that major trade fairs and events can once again be held in France in complete safety.”