The Canadian International AutoShow (CIAS) is set to return in early 2022 following a year’s absence due to COVID-19.
Organizers made the decision to proceed with the show after the Ontario government on Oct. 8 enacted legislation that lifted capacity restrictions for large venues and events, said General Manager Jason Campbell.
CIAS, which takes place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, is the country’s largest consumer show, averaging about 360,000 over 10 days. It is slated to run Feb. 18-27, 2022.
“We’re looking forward to another show,” Campbell said. “It’s been a very rapid ascent from feeling very unlikely that we will have a show to the time when ‘holy cow it can be wide open again.’ It was a wonderful surprise and now everybody is racing to figure out the logistics of how all of this is going to work and racing to get their teams back in place.”
Campbell said that there is going to be a “huge hunger for the consumers to get back and do things again.”
The CIAS executive is currently talking to manufacturers about the latest rules and regulations and COVID protocols, said Campbell.
Manufacturers planning to participate in next year’s show have requested about 70 per cent of the floor space.
“This gives opportunities for new brands to come in, particularly those in the electric space, which we know are eager to get a big showcase and we’ve been in discussions with several of those companies,” he said. “We wouldn’t have had that same opportunity to allow that front and centre showcasing in past years. It’s totally possible in 2022.”
As for provincial health-and-safety rules, consumers and people working at the show must wear a mask and will be required to show proof they are double vaccinated. Space will also be made available for social distancing.
Campbell said a ticket system, particularly on weekends, will be designed to limit the time consumers will be allowed to stay at the show before they will be required to leave. Campbell said it is being done to best control the number of people inside the Convention Centre and the flow of people. He said on average people stay at the show for between 3-3½ hours.
“I don’t think we’ll get to the point where we are policing people and forcing them out after three hours,” he said. “We will simply sell a certain numbers of tickets per hour that will ensure we are never above the maximum allowed between the two buildings whereas in previous years we’ve never had to check people out or check people in and out.”
He said the CIAS is awaiting the maximum capacity limit from the Convention Centre, but he anticipates it will be between 15,000-16,000 at any one time. He said on a weekend that number is generally about triple.
In previous years special events were introduced in the evening to try to regulate the flow without doing the time ticketing, said Campbell.
For purposes of contact tracing, Campbell said the ticketing system will include the consumer’s name and contact information. Attendees will have to present identification to ensure that the name of the ticket-holder matches the name of the person entering the event. Previously, tickets could be shared.