ORLANDO, Fla. — Some major companies are pulling out of a global conference scheduled to take place next Monday in Orlando because of the coronavirus.
- Amazon, Intel and Salesforce are just a few pulling out
- Conference organizer says virus fears are not stopping others
- Visit Orlando president claims coronavirus is not impacting tourism
- Get more coronavirus coverage here
The Orange County Convention Center is known as a destination for some of the world's largest conferences and gatherings, including the annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference, a global health tech convention set to begin in Orlando March 9 and not open to the public.
However, concerns about the coronavirus are now causing some companies to think twice before coming.
"We've got some of our multinational companies who are withdrawing from the exhibit floor," said Senior Director of Strategic Communications for HIMSS Karen Groppe.
Those companies, include big names like Amazon, Intel and Salesforce, issued a statement.
"Due to the continued concerns about COVID-19, Amazon will withdraw from exhibiting and participating in the HIMSS20 Conference," stated an Amazon spokesperson in an email sent to Spectrum News 13 by the company's public relations manager Cortney Lusignan.
Intel and Salesforce have also said they will not be attending HIMSS because of travel concerns with coronavirus. An Intel's spokesperson send Spectrum News 13 a statement on why the company would not be attending the convention.
"Intel has withdrawn from HIMSS and notified the organizers. The safety and wellbeing of all of our employees is our top priority. As a precaution, we have implemented travel restrictions to areas significantly impacted by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, and restricted attendance at events that don't apply similar travel restrictions to attendees. We're monitoring the situation closely and working to ensure that our employees have the information and resources they need to stay safe," the spokesperson stated.
However, Groppe says those cancelations are having a minimal impact.
"Well it's not keeping about 37 thousand hundred people away … 1,300 exhibitors excuse me are still confirmed and still unpacking right now in Orlando," Groppe said.
Visit Orlando President George Aguel said in a press conference Monday that so far the coronavirus is not hurting the tourism economy in the area.
"So far we've seen no measurable impact in our industry to date," Aguel said.
However, on Tuesday another conference, Ellucian Live 2020, scheduled to begin April 5 cancelled its entire event because of the coronavirus.
Ellucian Live 2020 has opted instead to stream the conference online for free.
Meanwhile, the HIMSS conference is expecting visitors from all over the world.
However, Groppe says they are barring entry to anyone from a level 3 affected country designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which includes Italy, South Korea and China.
"So if someone presents themselves as being from one of the impacted areas, that we've asked not to join us, they will be denied entrance," Groppe said.
Groppe said they are doing that because they do not want to impact the health of the community that is hosting them.
HIMSS is taking precautions to protect conference attendees, including handshake-free meetings.
The Global Pet Expo last week also saw an impact from vendors who were not able to attend due to travel restrictions.