Fear of attacks by Islamic terrorists has caused a slump in
registration for the International Advertising Association’s World
Advertising Congress opening in Cairo next week.
The congress’s Egyptian organisers are hoping a last-minute surge of
interest from the Middle East marketing and media community will prevent
speakers such as Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak, and the WPP chairman,
Martin Sorrell, speaking to rows of empty seats.
Registration is expected to be little more than half the 2,300 who
attended the last congress in Seoul two years ago, a situation described
by an IAA source as ’seriously disappointing’.
In a move designed to avoid an embarrassing flop, IAA affiliates are
being offered free accommodation at the American University in
The involvement of Mubarak, who is to give the opening address, reflects
the importance the Egyptian government attaches to staging a successful
and incident-free congress in order to help revive a tourist industry
decimated by terrorist outrages.
Last November’s massacre of 64 tourists at Luxor led to speculation that
the congress venue would be changed to Dubai, although IAA chiefs,
conscious of the heavy investment already made by the Egyptians, agreed
to keep faith as long as there were no further incidents.
Norman Vale, the IAA’s director-general, agreed security fears were a
problem but added that a major reason for the fall in numbers compared
with Seoul was the fact that South Korea was the world’s seventh largest
advertising market. ’Egypt isn’t anywhere near that size,’ he said.