Summary of GMID Debate – Pandemic Protocol: Is a Vaccine Passport a Solution for the Business Events Industry?


In celebration of Global Meetings Industry Day (8 April), PCMA hosted the first ever PCMA APAC and EMEA debate, attracting over 500 registrations from 57 countries.

Moderated by Oscar Cerezales, Global Executive President Corporate Division, MCI Group, the big debate discussed the pros and cons of the potential introduction of a Vaccine Passport – would it be a game changer?

Cerezales opened the session with a short presentation on recovery, economic development and social transformations, with a focus on the learning curve and discussing how a new strategy “needs to be sustainable, scalable and innovative.”

When getting into the crunchy question, Cerezales asked, “It’s not only about the causation, or the correlation between the vaccine passport and the recovery but more so, is it a game changer for us?”

Then the question was posed to the panel ‘Is the vaccine passport a game changer?’ with plenty of interesting food for thought.

“Yes” said Lyn-Lewis Smith, CEO, BESydney.

“There’s a great economic and social argument as to why we need a vaccine passport.”

“It’s not a matter of why, it’s a matter of when. I do think people’s liberties have been taken away by COVID and a vaccine passport is the absolute solution for us to get back in the air and start moving around the world and get our freedom back.”

“Hell Yes” said Sanjay Seth, Managing Director Asia Pacific, BCD Meetings & Events.

“There shouldn’t be an issue with this because vaccination passports are not new or novel.”

“What it should do is help to facilitate business events coming back. This is one of the steps in the process, it isn’t THE answer, it’s one of the steps to make it more feasible.”

“No” said Ben Hainsworth, Managing Director, EASL – The Home of Hepatology.

“It’s almost an external factor for us. But really, it’s almost a red herring. We should be thinking about the value proposition that we will be offering when we really come to a recovery.”

“This could almost be a distraction and we shouldn’t be focusing on something that we aren’t in control of. We should really be focusing on our own game and thinking about how we are going to repitch our business.”

The audience were able to participate and ask questions, and moderator Oscar Cerezales issued a challenge to the panellists, asking them to answer quick fire questions about a variety of topics from what they were reading, watching and who inspires them, to their top ingredients that we need now.

The debate was wrapped up with a conclusion that the vaccine passport is not about tourism, rather it’s about economic development and social transformations.

Watch the full debate here.