“We have determined that we cannot hold a successful convention in Bangkok in December 2021. It is therefore with much sadness and disappointment that we need to cancel CineAsia 2021,” organizers at Film Expo Group said in a statement emailed to delegates on Friday.
The show, held in Hong Kong for several years, was canceled in 2019 due to the political unrest in the city that at times became violent. After that, organizers announced a relocation to the Thai capital. But the December 2020 event had to be canceled due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Eight key markets in the region are presently closed and will not reopen until October. Travel restrictions remain in force across all territories and we expect those to continue through year-end. Slow progress on vaccine rollouts and quarantine requirements all add to the challenges in the region. Another main concern is that travel between Asian countries will be curtailed as well as travel from the US. People’s willingness to travel is not viable now and we don’t expect it to be until first quarter of 2022,” the statement said.
The cancelation of CineAsia underlines the divergent health and economic paths taken by countries in Asia in response to the disease compared with those in Europe and North America. CinemaCon took place as an in-person event in Las Vegas last month and CineEurope is still scheduled to be a real world meetup that takes place in Barcelona, Spain Oct. 4-7, 2021.
Governments around Asia remain significantly more sensitive to coronavirus incidences than those in the West, and many maintain strict border and travel restrictions that make travel out of country or return home limited, onerous and expensive propositions. Despite their experience-based fear of epidemics, Asian governments have struggled to attain high levels of vaccination among their populations.
The national government in Thailand adopted a unique policy whereby it initially refused to join the intergovernmental Covax program which would have allowed it to buy vaccines transparently. Instead, it opted to manufacture its own shots in Thailand under license from AstraZeneca at a facility that had not previously made vaccines. When it became clear that Thailand was falling behind other countries and the delta variant was causing a devastating new wave of infections, the government was obliged to change policy, start importing vaccines and belatedly join Covax.
New daily cases were reported at over 14,000 on Thursday. Johns Hopkins University now reports that Thailand has suffered 1.32 million cases in total and over 13,000 COVID-related deaths. Its data shows that 15.7% of the population is now fully-vaccinated.