‘We will see an increase in virtual meetings and conferences’

By Kristinn Halldór Einarsson, CEO Blindrafélagið, Icelandic Association of the visually impaired (BIAVI)


Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, you have decided to postpone the 21st Retina International World Congress, which was due to take place from 4 to 6 June 2020 in Reykjavik, Iceland, to June 2022. How will this decision affect BIAVI (Icelandic Association of the Visually Impaired) as an association, and the congress?

There will be extra costs for BAVI related to rescheduling the venue, informing registered participants of changed dates, repaying registration fees to those who choose not to keep their registration until 2022, and possibly partly rearranging the programme. We, however, do not expect significant accost addition.
The main effect on the Congress is that there will now be 4 years between congresses, 2018 – 2022, and the RI General Assembly 2020 and related education programme will have to take place with the help of a computer conference system.  

What made you decide to postpone the event to 2022, rather than to next year?

Other important conferences on similar topics have been rescheduled to June 2021, and we also felt it would be sensible to remove as much of the risk as possible, as some travel restrictions will still be in place in the early part of 2021, when registrations would take place.

Would you consider hosting a virtual event in the meantime?

No, that was never an option.

Going back to large in-person events will take some time to get used to. Are you concerned this may affect the number of congress attendees?

In general terms, yes.  But hopefully not so much for co-organized RIWC2022 and NOK2022, as we believe we can counter these effects up to a certain degree with our offer.

The MICE industry has been heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. How do you think this will change our industry, and what measures can be taken, in your opinion?

I believe we will see an increase in virtual meetings and conferences. I do not have a formulated opinion on how to react to it.