Iraqi war won’t deter Basel 2003, officials say

The show will go on.

That’s the word today from officials of the international Basel World Watch and Jewelry show, scheduled for April 3-10, on the eve of war against Iraq.

The show, the largest such annual trade fair in the world, takes place this year in two locations–Basel and Zurich, Switzerland. Noting the “prevailing uncertainty” about the war, the show management in a March 19 statement said that “all preparations” for the show are “going ahead as planned.”

Show officials said they expected “a reduction in attendance, primarily from [those coming from] overseas.” Those visitors and buyers represent about 27% of the show’s roughly 80,000 annual visitors from 100 countries. The number of visitors from Europe (about 73%) is expected to remain stable. Concerning the fair’s 2,163 exhibitors (two thirds showing in Basel, the rest in Zurich), show management says that it has received “no cancellations from exhibitors due to the impending war. The show build-up and all other preparations continue unabated.”

Officials of the Basel show, one of the best-protected annual trade shows in the international jewelry industry, are “maintaining close contact” with law enforcement and government authorities and said they “guarantee maximum security for exhibitors and visitors.” The show organizers–the MCH Basel Exhibition Ltd.–also said the show is “continuously adjusting its security measures to meet current conditions.” They noted that Switzerland is a “traditionally neutral and safe country [and] there is no official heightened security risk level.”