Health protection strategy for fairs: IFEMA i...
Health protection strategy for fairs

IFEMA is back in business

Photo: IFEMA
IFEMA: Back to business
IFEMA: Back to business

IFEMA, the exhibiton centre of Madrid is getting ready to start working at full capacity after a year of forced inactivity apart from some virtual events, and some hybrid meetings, such as the MBFW Madrid fashion show. That is according to José Vicente de los Mozos, president of the Executive Committee of IFEMA and Eduardo López-Puertas, the Managing Director of IFEMA.

The pinnacle will come in May with FITUR, which is even more significant this year as a champion of international mobility - this being the first European in-person fair of its size - and as a public service, symbolising the recovery of the tourism industry. According to IFEMA President José Vicente de los Mozos, the hope brought by vaccines and falling infection rates has prompted IFEMA “to make faster progress towards its goal to lift the ERTE affecting the workforce, scheduling a de-escalation and planning to hold all the events programmed for 2021, circumstances permitting”. The three-stage process will start in mid-March with the return of 40 people. By 5 April 90% of the IFEMA workforce will be back, joined by their remaining colleagues on 4 May”.

This commitment is an essential component of the institution’s intention to hold all the events scheduled for 2021, if possible. The idea is to make this a year of recovery for IFEMA, with a line-up of more than fifty in-person fairs, with additional virtual content capable of breaking with seasonality and attracting a wider audience. Thus, the concept of hybridization in fairs is consolidated, which gives greater power and scope to these fundamental business platforms.

The kick-off is scheduled for March, when it will host Spain’s first face-to-face fair in Spain in 2021:  HIP, Hospitality Innovation Planet, the great innovation event for hospitality and restaurant professionals, between March 22 and 24 . In April there will be more fairs and in-person events such as ESTAMPA, the Contemporary Art Fair, and hybrids, like the MBFWMadrid fashion event, in addition to four digital fairs, linked to the trend and lifestyle sectors. May and June will be a warm-up period, with five in-person fairs each month. Among them, will be Europe’s first resumption of mass international movement with FITUR with IFEMA’s health and safety strategy in full swing. Finally, to cap the first six months of the year, the great international contemporary art event ARCOmadrid will be held in July in time to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

To enable IFEMA to start holding its events again, it has spent the year analysing how to hold safe meetings where participants are fully protected. This has involved preparing an elaborate health strategy .  As a result, IFEMA has developed an ambitious protocol with a host of essential measures to organise the flow of visitors and their mobility, establishing capacity control, social distancing, reducing the risk of direct contact by using digital registration, taking temperatures, broadening aisles and taking advantage of new technologies to count visitors, as well as ensuring effective air renewal in halls, among other innovations in this area.

One of the main features of this strategy is the unique ventilation system installed in IFEMA's halls, which renews all the air five times an hour, completely changing all the air in a hall in just over 20 minutes, while keeping everything at a comfortable temperature at all times. Coupled with large volumes and high ceilings, this technology means that the air that is breathed indoors is equivalent to being outdoors, thanks to air that is not recirculated, filtering systems and comfortable conditions.

All these protocols have been certified by AENOR and are strictly monitored to ensure that they comply with all anti-COVID safety monitoring group requirements created for the purpose in participation with different departments of IFEMA.

„FITUR was the last fair to be held in 2020 anywhere in the world and we are proud to be the first and only global fair to be held in 2021.“
Eduardo López-Puertas, managing director of IFEMA

According to Eduardo López-Puertas, managing director of IFEMA, “due to the international impact and the importance of a strategic sector like tourism, the institution’s biggest challenge is to  hold FITUR in a manner that guarantees the highest level of safety for all attendees”. “FITUR was the last fair to be held in 2020 anywhere in the world and we are proud to be the first and only global fair to be held in 2021. This has been a massive undertaking and entails the obligation to provide antigen tests, and PCR all attendees as a prerequisite for accreditation and access to the fair as well as providing a medical area available at the fair for on-site testing”.

This safety strategy takes things a step further and intends to ensure that Madrid is also a safe space. To achieve this, IFEMA has joined forces with public administrations and the many sectors involved to make this a city-wide concept. The organisation is working with the Madrid Hotel Business Association, among others, to give FITUR participants who prefer to stay in a safe environment at all times a selection of hotels, means of transport and even restaurants and leisure venues that undertake to maintain certain standards, establishing circuits in Madrid for the thousands of visitors who will come to FITUR.