In 2019, the forum took place in Marrakech and brought together hundreds of participants.
Rabat – Amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the organizers of the African Hotel Investment Forum (FIHA) have decided to postpone the event from March 23-25 to July 7-9.
The forum is set to take place in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. The West African country has currently confirmed five COVID-19 cases.
The event’s organizer, Bench Events, and the host sponsor, Accor, announced the move in a press release on Monday, March 9.
FIHA is a platform that brings together investors, developers, consultants, contractors, hoteliers, and political leaders. However, a number of participants expressed reservations about traveling in the middle of the coronavirus outbreak.
“A number of participating companies are responding to the coronavirus outbreak by implementing policies to restrict their executives from traveling and we must make sure that our delegates are safe,” explained the Chairman of Bench Events, Jonathan Worsley.
“As FIHA is all about networking and meeting people, that is a genuine challenge. I am grateful to many of our speakers and sponsors who have told us they are willing to reschedule to a later date. We are also grateful to Accor and the Sofitel for being so understanding and flexible,” he continued.
In response to the growing concerns, the organizers agreed that the best course of action is to delay the event and give participants sufficient time to reschedule their plans.
FIHA is the largest hotel investment conference in Francophone Africa. In 2019, Morocco hosted the event at the Mansour Eddahbi Hotel in Marrakech.
Despite possibly having a negative impact on the African tourism sector, the postponement of the event is in line with preventive measures worldwide against the spread of the virus.
In Morocco, the government banned all gatherings of more than 1,000 people in confined spaces. The new regulation led to the cancellation of several international events, such as the International Agricultural Exhibition of Meknes (SIAM) and the Crans Montana Forum in Dakhla.
The cancellation of events and the growing fear from COVID-19 is expected to have serious ramifications on the economy, especially the tourism sector.
Earlier this month, the Ministry of Tourism and the national airline Royal Air Maroc (RAM) predicted that the COVID-19 outbreak will lead the country to lose at least 100,000 tourists in March alone.
Since the confirmation of Morocco’s first coronavirus case on March 2, cancellations of flight reservations to Morocco and tourist accommodations multiplied exponentially. In Marrakech alone, the tourism ministry recorded the cancellation of over 10,000 reservations.