Events industry organizations have been unanimous in issuing statements of support for the people of Ukraine and condemning Russia’s invasion. And some are going even further by issuing sanctions of their own.
Events industry organizations have been coming out strongly in issuing public statements of support for Ukraine and condemnation of Russia for its invasion. Here is a roundup of what some of these organizations have said so far.
The Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) was quick to come out with a statement of support for Ukraine, saying, “Now, more than ever, the world must come together,” read a statement from the group. “The unprovoked and unjustified attacks on the people of Ukraine proves that we, as a society, have more work to do. Social injustice — war — has no place, anywhere.”
“We support UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ position in his call to end this senseless war,” PCMA’s statement continued. “Our global communities must be resolute in driving economic good and to solve complex issues. We stand united against war and acts of evil against innocent civilians. We support people who believe in and live in a peaceful society. Our prayers are with all who are grieving, and it is our hope that peace will prevail quickly.
PCMA said it has donated $10,000 to the American Red Cross Ukraine Humanitarian Relief fund. In its statement, PCMA said it “is committed to contributing to the Ukraine Humanitarian Fund. If you are interested in supporting urgently needed food, water and shelter, please visit the UN Foundation.”
Meeting Professionals International (MPI) also issued a statement condemning the acts of aggression from Russia and urged an expeditious end to the conflict with Ukraine. “In a show of support for the people of Ukraine, MPI will immediately suspend business with all companies in Russia. In addition, any plans to formalize a chapter in Russia will be paused,” the organization said. “We remain concerned for the well-being of our community and our MPI members in Russia and Ukraine who were already seeking to climb out of the shadow of this pandemic and are now experiencing these unprecedented challenges.”
Destinations International’s statement said in its statement of support for Ukraine, “Our hearts have been with the people of Ukraine since the Russian government began its unprovoked and unconscionable attack on that nation. Destinations International condemns the Russian government’s acts of aggression and urges an expeditious end to the war in Ukraine.
“We believe that tourism is a bridge that connects people of diverse backgrounds and different cultures; we strive to build a community of destination professionals who believe in goodwill toward all people.” The organization said that, as a result of the Russian government’s “unprovoked acts of violence, Destinations International will not engage in further business in Russia until a peaceful resolution takes place. We have made the decision to terminate the membership of our one member in Russia, the Saint Petersburg Convention Bureau, effective immediately.”
Destination International also said it has donated to the World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit organization from celebrity chef José Andrés that is providing food for displaced people in Ukraine, and urged its members to contribute as well. “We encourage our over 600 members and our partners throughout the world to show their support of the people of Ukraine in any way possible, including making charitable donations to World Central Kitchen or any other organization making a positive impact in Ukraine.”
The events industry’s umbrella group, the Events Industry Council (EIC) said in its statement of support for Ukraine, “We are deeply disturbed by the humanitarian crisis unfolding, which will ultimately impact other countries and regions across Europe and are concerned for the safety and well-being of the people of Ukraine. The military invasion of Ukraine is in direct conflict with the values that all of us who serve the Events Industry Council and our global community passionately believe in, and we strongly oppose any form of violence and oppression that negatively impacts the safety and security of those that work in the events industry across Ukraine, their families, colleagues and indeed all Ukrainians.
“All of us at the Events Industry Council and our global EIC family have been deeply moved by the bravery, courage and resolve of the Ukrainian people and the incredible show of support from our own community and across the world,” the statement said.
The Society for Incentive Travel Excellence’s Poland chapter is taking action by assisting relief efforts to help Ukraine citizens who have been forced to evacuate their homeland.
In its statement of support, SITE said, “Our SITE chapter in Poland, led by chapter president Grazyna Grot-Duziak, is already actively supporting refugees from Ukraine who have crossed the border into Poland with transport, accommodation, food, medicines, cleaning products, medical and legal assistance, even making their own homes available for mothers with children.
“They are routing financial donations through Polish Humanitarian Action, an aid organisation that has been responding to human tragedies caused by wars and natural disasters for over 25 years — ‘seeing in each of these crises the fate of another human being.’ We have also identified two Ukraine-focused, aid organisations with 501 (c) 3 status in the U.S. — Nova Ukraine and United Help Ukraine… We encourage all SITE members and chapters to help in whatever ways you can.”
SITE added, “We believe that travel rewards [provide] extraordinary benefits to the individuals who qualify for them, the corporations who sponsor them, and the destinations in which they take place. By celebrating diversity, highlighting equity, promoting inclusion, and fostering cultural immersion and exchange, travel acts as a powerful agent of tolerance, peace, and unification. We profess that belief again today as the peace and security of our world has been attacked, and we call for an immediate end to hostilities and for support of those affected.”
Hervé Sedky, current chair of the Society for Independent Show Organizers (SISO) Board of Directors and CEO of international exhibition producer Emerald, said in a statement, said, “SISO condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We’ve all watched with horror as the conflict in Ukraine has escalated, with reports of explosions in populated areas.
“We cannot stand by and watch this conflict unfold without taking action. At this time, we have decided to suspend Russian members from participation in our events. We are also launching a fundraising campaign and contributing to the much-needed ongoing humanitarian efforts.”
SISO CEO David Audrain added, “this tragic and senseless unprovoked attack by Russia on the people of Ukraine must be condemned by all, and actions that will bring the Russian government to the realization that it must stop have to be taken—that includes isolating Russia from all commercial activities as quickly as possible. We will be sharing this action today with the SISO membership, as well as details on a fundraising campaign to support the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. SISO will be seeding this fundraising campaign with an initial $10,000.”
The International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) released a statement from James Rees on March 1 saying, “I am sure you will be extremely saddened to see the escalating hostilities unfolding in Ukraine in recent days. It is particularly hard to witness such devastation in countries where we normally work together, in partnership, so our thoughts at this time are with our members, friends and colleagues in both Ukraine and Russia who are being directly affected by this action.”
“ICCA is an association that advocates for all of our global members, prizing knowledge exchange and internationalization, where differences are challenged through debate and discussion. We call on governments on all sides to do everything possible to end hostilities and meet to negotiate a peaceful resolution to this conflict.”
Meetings Organizers and Venues Join in Issuing Sanctions
Among the first out of the gate was the IMEX Group, which announced it was suspending Russian businesses from attending its IMEX Frankfurt show, scheduled for May 31-June 2 in Frankfurt, Germany. Before COVID sidelined the event, it drew more than 5,100 hosted buyers and more than 3,000 exhibitors from 170 countries to the mega-trade show for the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions industry.
“Sadly, we have taken the decision to suspend Russian state enterprises from participating at IMEX Frankfurt 2022 as a direct result of the current political situation,” said IMEX Group CEO Carina Bauer and Chairman Ray Bloom in a statement. “We do this with a heavy heart, understanding that the world is in an unprecedented situation. Our hearts go out to everyone who is affected and especially the people of Ukraine. All of us wish for a speedy and peaceful resolution to this conflict.”
Messe Frankfurt, the IMEX show’s venue, also released a statement calling for peace. In addition, it said it has decided to suspend events of its subsidiary Messe Frankfurt RUS until further notice.
“Messe Frankfurt is looking with great concern at the tragic developments in Ukraine these days,” the statement said. “Our company creates internationally neutral communications and trade platforms where people of all nations come together. Our corporate principles stand for peaceful coexistence and trade relations of the same kind—because this is a prerequisite for a functioning international economy and for a functioning international coexistence as a whole.”
The Supervisory Board of Messe Düsseldorf also has suspended the group’s business activities in Russia until further notice due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, including the activities of the subsidiary Messe Düsseldorf Moscow.
“The entire city of Düsseldorf is thinking of the people in Ukraine,” said Dr. Stephan Keller, mayor of Düsseldorf and chairman of the Supervisory Board of Messe Düsseldorf in the statement. “After we have already put the city partnership between Moscow and Düsseldorf on ice, it is only logical that Messe Düsseldorf, as a subsidiary of the city, also suspends its activities in Russia for the time being.”
Wolfram N. Diener, CEO and president of Messe Düsseldorf, added, “The current events contradict the mission and values of our company, which is to create international marketplaces for free, cross-border intercultural and economic exchange.”
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