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Casting a shadow over events While captivating the global media, the Eyjafjallajokull volcano that erupted in Iceland nearly paralysed our industry. T he international exhibition industry was engulfed in chaos last month by a cloud of volcanic ash that halted flights and left exhibitor stands empty. While planes flew over Asia, the trade shows beneath suffered from a lack of inbound traffic from Europe. The China Dailydrew early attention to the far flung effects of Iceland's seismic event when it reported that the Auto China 2010 exhibition was under threat. This was immediately followed by the glaring absence of European exhibitors from the electronics exhibition NEPCON China, in Shanghai, an issue that raised eyebrows at Reed Exhibitions' Singapore office. Also in Shanghai, organisers of the highly anticipated World Expo remained resolute that the show would go on, regardless of who is able to make the opening. Let's not forget that the volcano, or one of its more active neighbours, could continue to erupt for some time. Most foreign pavilions at the Shanghai Expo are served by local teams, but some stand designers have been unable to fly in from Europe. " We can do nothing but wait," said Franck Serrano, director of the French pavilion. International Congress and Convention Association CEO, Martin Sirk, described the situation as " totally unprecedented". " It harmed our members not just across Europe, but also in other regions of the world, where European delegates and speakers planned to attend events," he said. The giant construction equipment exhibition Bauma in Messe Munich dealt with a variety of logistical nightmares as exhibitors and contractors struggled to attend. The organiser ended up taking on emergency staff to provide information and coverage for the stands that were unoccupied. The organiser of destinations exhibition IMEX 2010, to be held in Frankfurt Messe later this month, was another among those checking their insurance policies. Says MD Carina Bauer: " The effect of the eruption in Iceland has affected the meetings industry as much, if not more so, as many other sectors. However, IMEX 2010 has so far been unaffected and we very much expect the situation to be more stable by the end of May." However, not everyone was left cursing the ash cloud. The unplanned grounding of business travellers around the world played right into the hands of hotel operators. Booking agency BSI said it witnessed an " exceptional level of UK and worldwide bookings and amendments" according to MD Trevor Elswood. THE MAGAZINE FOR THE GLOBAL EXHIBITION COMMUNITY WWW. EXHIBITION- WORLD. NET| May 2010| 25

T he eighth IMEX will open on 25 May at Messe Frankfurt with its largest ever hosted buyer programme in place and buyer, exhibitor and trade visitor targets all on course for year- on- year growth. " We have spent the last 12 months concentrating on developing new partnerships with intermediaries, who can deliver more high quality buyers from the most important and resilient long- haul markets," explains IMEX group chairman, Ray Bloom. " What is more, we have made sure that a large proportion of these buyers will be staying for three full days and also spending longer on the show floor meeting and doing business with exhibitors." Forty- five new hosted buyer groups have been confirmed for IMEX 2010; with many of these new buyers coming through key global hotel groups, who have expanded the regions from which they are delivering clients. A strong run- up in the past two months alone has seen a marked rise in the number of new exhibitors plus an upturn in stand increases. Sixty- two exhibitors have now increased the size of their stands compared to 2009 and a total of 29 new stands with hundreds of new exhibiting companies will be present. Europe, Switzerland, Luxembourg, the Czech Tourism Authority, Romania, Serbia, Iceland, Meet Sicily and Figur Tourism will all have a larger presence at the show. Continued strength among Asian exhibitors is also demonstrated by increased space for Seoul, Korea, Malaysia, Macau and Indonesia. From the Middle East, Qatar and Discovery Jordan will be taking bigger stands, while further growth in the Latin American market has prompted Argentina and Uruguay to increase their stand space. In addition Spain has again increased exhibition space, which makes it second only to the German Convention Bureau ( GCB) stand in terms of size. Three suppliers brand new to the meetings industry will also be celebrating winning a free place on the Wild Card Pavilion. This year's winners are: Uganda; Morzine in France and the Hof Conference Center in Iceland. Among the exhibitors to have increased in the past two months are Finland Convention Bureau, Moscow, Serbia, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Trinidad and Tobago, Ecuador, Panama, Japan, India, Lebanon and Taiwan. From the private sector, Kuoni, Sales and Promotion, GL Events and TUI will also be increasing their stand sizes. New exhibitors in the same period include several cruise companies, namely Transocean and Business on Cruise. Returning after a short break are Norwegian Cruise Line and Sea Dream Yacht Club. Other companies returning to the show are the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, Transcielos representing Bolivian and Peruvian exhibitors and 2003 Wild Card Winner, Poznan ( Poland), which will now exhibit at IMEX for the first time in their own rights; a result of their growth and success in the global meetings industry since winning the IMEX Wild Card Scheme seven years ago. The US Pavilion will once again be an extremely diverse and business- centred section of the show with a range of exhibitors from across the country. Anchorage, Arizona, Boston, Chicago, Texas, the Eastern Seaboard, San Francisco, Florida, Washington and New York City will all be present. Las Vegas has also doubled the size of its stand compared to 2009. Preview| Exhibition World 26| May 2010| THE MAGAZINE FOR THE GLOBAL EXHIBITION COMMUNITY WWW. EXHIBITION- WORLD. NET IMEX 2010 preview With the launch of its US counterpart next year, EWexplores IMEX 2010 and finds education and sustainability take top billing. IMEX group chairman Ray Bloom