Interbank messaging outfit Swift has responded to ongoing anxieties about the impact of the SARS outbreak on its annual operations conference Sibos, scheduled for October in Singapore, by issuing a revised refund and attendance policy and setting out a series of critical final checkpoints for participants.
In a statement, Swift says it is continuing to monitor developments in Asia Pacific and the rest of the world as health authorities struggle to contain the spread of the deadly respiratory disease.
"We are in contact with health authorities who continue to provide assurances that the risk to travellers visiting Singapore is diminishing," says the Society. "Given the positive evolution of SARS in Singapore at this time, Sibos 2003 is continuing as planned and will take place from 20-24 October 2003."
To protect the financial commitments that will be made by Sibos participants, a final checkpoint has been set for 27 June 2003, when Swift will re-confirm the decision to proceed. If necessary, Swift says it will also announce on this date a watch list of countries where SARS is not yet considered contained and by 1 September 2003, will announce whether participants from these areas will be permitted to attend.
The World Health Organisation currently recommends that people consider postponing all but essential travel to Beijing, Hong Kong, Guangdong, Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Taipei and Tianjin.
Swift has additionally revised its refund policy, in an effort to encourage participants to proceeed with their Sibos planning. Swift says it will waive the EUR200 cancellation fee for all registered delegates who write and confirm their cancellation by 15 September. The Society is also prepared to refund 75% of the booking fee of exhibitors who pull-out by this date.