The European Major Exhibition Centres Association (EMECA) has announced the election of Ricard Zapatero (pictured), international business director of Fira de Barcelona, as the association's president for 2021-2022.
Maurits van der Sluis, COO of RAI Amsterdam and current EMECA president, will take up the role of vice-president strategy for the next term.
Two more positions were also filled: Roland Bleinroth, CEO of Messe Stuttgart, was confirmed for another term as vice-president digital business and Claude Membrez, director general of Palexpo Geneva, will act as interim vice-president for technical affairs.
Van der Sluis said: “EMECA has and will have a strong and determined leading team. Exhibition centres and organisers are in a very difficult situation due to the impact of Covid-19 restrictions. We will strive for bringing back marketing platforms and face-to-face encounters to our clients.”
Zapatero added: “The next year will be decisive for exhibitions centres. I am convinced that industries need their sectorial platforms so that economic recovery and the transition to more sustainable and digital future can be mastered. Our sector is hit especially hard and for a very long time by the Covid-19 restrictions, including on-off lockdowns and unprecedented travel restrictions for our clients. We are convinced of our business model while we massively invest into offering alternative and complementary services to the respective sectorial communities. However, as the situation persists, we call for rapid testing to allow safe exhibitions and business events.”