Due to global concerns over the increasing number of reported cases of the Zika virus occurring in South America and Puerto Rico, the American Lighting Association (ALA)’s Board of Governors and the ALA staff have decided – to ensure the safety of its membership – to cancel this year’s planned annual conference at the El Conquistador Resort in Puerto Rico, scheduled for September 25 to 27.
The Zika virus has affected nearly 1.6 million people around the world and is primarily spread through mosquito bites, with the most common symptoms being fevers, rashes, joint pains, conjunctivitis, and birth defects.
According to Larry Lauck, ALA’s Executive Vice President, rescheduling the Conference and finding an alternative venue for the event in North America was diligently explored by Beth Bentley, but as it is four months out from the event, finding suitable accommodations for so large a group in that timeframe was impossible. Changing the dates would also have been problematic for the keynote speakers who had been booked far in advance, Lauck added.
A formal announcement was sent out by the ALA this afternoon which states, “This decision was based on the health risks outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. We sincerely regret any inconvenience resulting from this decision, but our members’ health and safety is our number one concern.”
For those ALA members who had already booked their attendance, the 2016 Conference registrations will be rolled over and are guaranteed at the lowest rate for the 2017 ALA Conference in Vancouver, Canada to be held Sept. 10-12, 2017.
“ALA is our industry family and our decision was entirely focused on ensuring the safety of our members,” said Rick Seidman, 2016 ALA Conference Committee Chair. “We hope you understand, and we look forward to seeing all of you in Vancouver in 2017.”
“Thank you to all of our members who called with pertinent information to assist the Board of Governors in making this important decision,” added Eric Jacobson, ALA President & CEO. “The member support we have received is a testament to the strength of both the industry and our organization, and we look forward to working together to develop a great 2017 Conference in Vancouver.”
More information will be released by the ALA in the future.