In a turn of events that has left the exhibition industry reeling, the country’s largest annual event for the Wood and Cabinet industry (AWISA), has been cancelled for the upcoming year. The news, which spread like wildfire over the weekend, has sent shockwaves through the events sector.
The cancellation of AWISA is a glaring reminder that despite the gradual recovery from the pandemic, the remnants of COVID-19’s impact are still visible. The event, which was originally postponed from its usual slot to 2024 in hopes of avoiding any lingering COVID-19 legacy, has now been cancelled altogether.
The International Convention Centre (ICC), which typically hosts the event, is facing a significant blow not only in terms of revenue but also its occupancy rates. The estimated loss of $1.8 million in rent alone is a tough pill to swallow.
This is a significant event that occupies Halls 1-3 on Level 1 and Halls 6-7 on Level 4 pf the ICC Sydney, runs for four days and has a six day bump-in scheduled.
But the financial implications are just the tip of the iceberg. AWISA served as a major injection of business for countless contractors, artisans, and suppliers. The cancellation leaves a void that these stakeholders were eagerly anticipating to fill. Stand builders will be one of the biggest sectors hurt as many see it as a cash cow to see them through.
Whilst the main contractor for servicing the event would be now grappling with the harsh reality of a substantial income loss at least it was not an annual event and they have 12 months to plan around it.
The ripple effect extends beyond the ICC’s walls, impacting local hotels, restaurants, and other businesses that thrived during the bustling event. The economic interdependence that such events foster is now disrupted, causing concerns about the future of the events industry and its ability to regain its former vibrancy.
The woodworking community isn’t the only one feeling the pinch. Just last month, the revered Boat Show took place within the ICC’s confines, but it was a mere shadow of its former self. Unlike its glory days when it occupied every available hall and even the outdoor decks, the recent edition barely filled the bottom halls. The contrast is stark, serving as a testament to the challenges that the events sector continues to face.
Could this be a harbinger of more event cancellations to come? AWISA’s cancellation begs the question of whether other major events will follow suit or drastically reduce their scale. With a number of cancellations and space reductions already in motion, the exhibition industry as a whole is standing at a crossroads, grappling with uncertainty.
As the woodworking and cabinetry community grapples with the loss of this pivotal annual event, there’s a sense that the exhibition and event industry pulling one’s head out of the sand is becoming increasingly necessary.
While warnings and concerns have loomed, it’s often only when a tangible reality strikes that individuals and industries truly take stock of the situation. AWISA’s cancellation serves as a poignant reminder that the path to recovery is not without obstacles, and adaptation is key to navigating the evolving landscape.
Ed. ASE reached out to AWISA’s organisers – at the time of publication they have not responded.
Meanwhile Geoff Donaghy, CEO of ICC Sydney and Group Director, ASM Global APAC did respond to our inquiry.
“AWISA has regrettably advised the cancellation of their 2024 exhibition, however we remain in discussion for their event to proceed across a number of future years.
While we continually experience change across each of our market segments in response to global and local trends, we don’t see this cancellation of one event in one year as a reflection of the confidence of the exhibition sector overall. In contrast, we also have clients experiencing record attendance from both exhibitors and attendees alike with performance outlooks predicting continued future growth.”