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Houston to be impacted economically after massive energy conference canceled due to coronavirus concerns

HOUSTON – Due to mounting concerns of the coronavirus, organizers have postponed an international energy conference headed to Houston in a few days.

IHS Markit is canceling CERAWeek 2020 scheduled to take place, March 9 to 13, according to a press release.

The London–based global information provider noted there is an increasing number of companies that are setting travel bans and restrictions and a growing concern about larger conferences with people coming from different parts of the world, as reasons for the conference cancellation.

By the numbers

  • Delegates from more than 80 countries were to attend
  • About 5,500 people would have come to Houston for the conference
  • Last year, attendees spent about $7.2 million on hotels and food, according to Houston First

Ultimately, Mayor Turner said the safety and health of Houstonians were paramount.

“We, of course, would be losing about a minimum of 5400 hotel nights because the conference will not be taking place,” he said. 'So it will hurt us economically but you know lives over money."

University of Houston professor Steven Craig said the biggest loss is potential connections that could have been made at CERAWeek that may have lead to future business in Houston.

“Although it comes at a time that’s not particularly good right now any sort of any stimulus would be real welcome at this time,” said Craig. “So if it got canceled every year for the next five years than that’s a calamity. That doesn’t seem like what’s gonna happen.”

The organizers said they have spent several weeks focused on the health and safety of conference attendees and speakers, established a medical partnership with Houston Methodist Hospital and created an extensive protocol.

However, IHS Markit determined that the coronavirus is moving quickly around the world.

Houston has hosted the energy conference for nearly 40 years. CERAWeek 2021 is scheduled for March 1-5, 2021, in Houston.

“We have made this decision reluctantly and after deep consideration,” IHS Markit said in a release. “We recognize the dedication and importance of the CERAWeek community. We thank you for your engagement and your commitment to CERAWeek.”

Here is the full joint statement from Mayor Sylvester Turner and IHS Markit Vice Chairman and CERAWeek Chair, Daniel Yergin:

The city of Houston has played host to the annual CERAWeek by IHS Markit energy conference for more than 35 years, attracting thousands of global energy, technology, financial, and environmental executives, as well as senior government officials from around the world.

The reason is clear: Houston is the energy capital of the world. Houston is home to CERAWeek and home to one of IHS Markit’s main offices, with 500 employees in the greater Houston area.

The decision by IHS Markit to cancel CERAWeek 2020 was made after careful consideration following an advisory issued by the World Health Organization about the spread of the COVID-19 virus, a growing concern about large conferences with people coming from different parts of the world and the restriction of travel by a growing number of companies. Nothing specific to Houston led to this decision.

The city of Houston reports that there are currently zero confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the city.

The focus of concern was the number of delegates coming to Houston from more than 80 other countries at this particular time of uncertainty. For the same reason, IHS Markit has also cancelled two other international conferences this month scheduled for New Orleans and Long Beach, California.

CERAWeek 2020 had been scheduled to begin in one week. The decision at this time to cancel CERAWeek 2020 and the other two IHS Markit conferences was precautionary to help prevent further spread of COVID-19 in the United States.

CERAWeek and IHS Markit are deeply committed to Houston, and CERAWeek 2021 is already scheduled for March 1-5, 2021. CERAWeek benefits from strong partnerships with Houston institutions and companies—ranging from the energy industry to medical centers—and from collaboration with the city itself.

Houston will always be the best city to host CERAWeek to discuss the state of the world’s energy industry and its future.

We look forward to CERAWeek returning to Houston in 2021.

Here is the full statement regarding CERAWeek 2020:

In light of developing circumstances, IHS Markit is cancelling CERAWeek 2020 scheduled to take place in Houston, March 9-13. We do this with deep disappointment.

Over the last few days concern has mounted rapidly about the COVID-19 coronavirus. The World Health Organization raised the threat level on Friday, the U.S. government cancelled a summit meeting scheduled in Las Vegas, an increasing number of companies are instituting travel bans and restrictions, border health checks are becoming more restrictive and there is growing concern about large conferences with people coming from different parts of the world. Delegates from over 80 countries were expected to participate in CERAWeek 2020.

Our number one concern is the health and safety of delegates and speakers, our partners, our colleagues and vendors. We have spent the last several weeks focused on this question, established a medical partnership with Houston Methodist Hospital, have been in continuing dialogue with experts on infectious disease, and established an extensive protocol. But the spread of COVID-19 is moving quickly around the world.

IHS Markit is committed to the CERAWeek mission of advancing insight and dialogue among the global energy community, and we will continue with CERAWeek 2021 in Houston on March 1-5, 2021. We have made this decision reluctantly and after deep consideration.

We recognize the dedication and importance of the CERAWeek community. We thank you for your engagement and your commitment to CERAWeek.


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