Unclear Dutch government communication hindering restart of exhibitions, says RAI Amsterdam

International event organiser and major venue, RAI Amsterdam, has said lack of communication with the industry on the part of the Dutch government is could result in the withdrawal of international events and major effects for the economy.

“The lack of clarity from the government in its communication about the rules for multi-day events until 1 September is having a major impact on the upcoming international business gatherings,” the RAI Amsterdam said in a statement. “The fact that no distinction is made between events with and without overnight stays on the event premises is causing serious confusion among organisers who are now considering either cancelling or moving their events.” 

Before the pandemic, RAI Amsterdam organised and facilitated some 600 international and national exhibitions and conferences a year. Every euro of turnover in the RAI translated into a turnover of eight euros for the Amsterdam Metropolitan Region in the form of hotel accommodations and spending in hospitality venues and shops in the capital and beyond. Annually, this represented a boost of €1.3 billion for the Dutch economy, while RAI Amsterdam also makes a significant contribution to employment in the region. 

As a result of the measures to combat Covid, RAI Amsterdam has been unable to organise or facilitate (inter)national events and conferences for 18 months.

Unclear communication on the Dutch government websites Rijksoverheid.nl and Government.nl is now threatening to extend the economic impact, the RAI said. “Multi-day events with overnight stays on the premises are approached in the same way as events with overnight stays elsewhere, which is what we offer at the RAI,” said CEO Paul Riemens, adding: “International organisers now believe there is a general ban on multi-day events, while the regulations say that business events like ours can actually take place. The way information is being communicated is causing confusion all around.” 

As a result, organisers are now considering cancelling or moving their events, with sponsors also looking to withdraw. Riemens added: “From September onwards, we have 16 major international multi-day events planned in the RAI before the end of the year. The cancellation of these events would have a huge economic impact on the RAI, the city of Amsterdam and the Netherlands.” Riemens also emphasised that business events contribute to the global exchange of knowledge and expertise, and are not in the highest category with regards to the risk of infection. In a letter to Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte, RAI Amsterdam appealed to the government to adapt the texts on the websites Rijksoverheid.nl and Government.nl and put an end to the confusion.