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Biggest audiovisual fair in the world to decide fate of 2021 Barcelona edition on March 1

ISE exhibition boasts 854 participants including Dell, Bosch, and Microsoft


05 February 2021 05:13 PM



The ISE exhibition, the biggest audiovisual sector fair in the world, will announce whether its Barcelona edition this June 1-4 will go ahead on March 1, organizers confirmed on Friday.

This announcement was made the week the fair was initially meant to take place before it was pushed back this autumn due to the pandemic. The organizers were clear that a new delay this year would not be possible and, if necessary, the next event would be held in 2022.

"At this stage, we feel we are in a position to run a safe show at Fira de Barcelona," explained director Mike Blackman in an interview with the Catalan News Agency (ACN).

The Barcelona event boasts 854 participants including Dell, Bosch, and Microsoft, although currently 700 exhibitors are confirmed The audiovisual media conference is set to take place at the Fira de Barcelona convention center, with so far 37,000 sqm reserved.  

A hopeful picture

Blackman is positive about the possibility for the show to go ahead, but the decision is still up in the air.

"The only question is how our customers feel," said the official, who added that the Covid-19 figures are "going down" both locally and across Europe.

He hopes "the situation will improve even more so" in the coming months and cited the falling number of cases and the vaccination scheme in Europe as indicators the convention should be allowed to run come the summer months.

Travel restrictions relevant

Although Blackman said it was "very hard" to list the criteria to assess the pros and cons of the decisions, he suggested that travel restrictions would play a role.

"Will those change? We have four months to go before the event in June and almost a month to go before we will make a decision on how we progress."

In any case, he emphasized that they will follow "government guidelines" in regards to the developing coronavirus crisis – but wondered "how many people are prepared" to do business under certain restrictions.

Compulsory testing

Blackman confirmed that if the event goes ahead, the show will require "compulsory testing" with antigen tests as they provide a response within 15 minutes.

"Whatever it takes to make [the attendees] safe, we will take those costs on board, but it is more the logistics, how we make it work."

Visitor registration will open next week, and in the event the ISE fair is called off, fees will be returned and online activities will be launched.

Reactivating the economy 

In a written statement released on Friday, Blackman added that this was necessary for the struggling industry and that ISE is trying "to contribute to the industry getting back on its feet" after a difficult financial year.

He also mentioned that one of his motivations was "to be a catalyst in recovering the businesses of a magnificent city like Barcelona" and to reactivate the local economy that has greatly suffered this year.

However, the deadline was announced because, as Blackman explained, the ISE did not want to commit its participants to any burdensome costs were the conference to be cancelled. 

The leaders of the event assured that they received the ‘Safe Travels’ stamp from the World Travel Tourism Council (WTTC) developed to display the safety of the proposed symposium.


  • ISE Amsterdam 2019 fair (Courtesy of Thomas Krackl/ISE)

  • ISE Amsterdam 2019 fair (Courtesy of Thomas Krackl/ISE)