On 11 August 2020, the French President and Prime Minister announced a ban on event gathering more than 5,000 people until at least 30 October 2020. However, a decree published on 13 August grants opportunity for certain events to apply for an exception to this measure. Cannes Yachting Festival has applied for special dispensation and is awaiting a response.

In a letter to exhibitors at the Cannes Yachting Festival, Sylvie Ernoult, director of the boat show explained: “This is why, faced with this situation that is as unprecedented as it is unexpected, the Yachting Festival team has urgently filed a dispensation request at the prefecture of the Alpes-Maritimes in order to be in a position to hold the festival…Following this, a meeting took place on Monday 17 August at the subprefecture of Grasse attended by the prefectural authorities, the City of Cannes, the Regional Health Authority (ARS), safety services and Reed Expositions France.”

At said meeting, the Yachting Festival’s management presented a series of health measures in an attempt to reinforce the protocols that they believe validates the continuance of the boat show. The letter to exhibitors further suggests that the Yachting Festival’s management foresee a favourable outcome in their attempt to file for special dispensation. However, the final decision on whether or not the boat show is able to go ahead has been postponed.

Today, Thursday 20 August 2020, a second meeting is being held to further evaluate the various measures and protocols that will be in place at the event in order for it to be granted the required dispensation.

“Consequently, as you will have understood to our greatest regret, we are still not in a position to be able to confirm that the Festival can be held, having not yet obtained the indispensable prefectural dispensation,” continues Ernoult. “We will get back to you by Friday 21 August at the latest and whatever the outcome, after the meeting with the prefect of the Alpes-Maritimes scheduled the day before.”

There remains one glaring problem with all of the above. Boat shows are, amongst many other things, supposed to be enjoyable. Yes, they are designed and managed in such a way that exhibitors are able to do business. However, for the consumer, they are an opportunity to explore their passions with like-minded individuals and, possibly, invest in an asset of their choosing. Yachting is supposed to be fun, so too are yachting events. With a number of protocols already in place and more to be added in order to satisfy the criteria required to special dispensation, how enjoyable could this boat show possible be and what sane UHNWI is likely to attend?


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