„The most important interbad for many years“
The opening of swimming pools was also one of the topics during the corona discussions between the Federal Government and federal states on 6 May 2020. The federal states are responsible for implementing the results of the discussions and have already communicated some of their plans in this respect. What does this mean for the upcoming interbad? Interview with Dr. Christian Ochsenbauer, Managing Director of the German Association for the Recreational and Medicinal Bath Industry.
What support do local authorities need during the corona crisis in order to comply with their obligation to provide essential services in the area of public swimming pools?
In particular, local authorities have no planning security at present. Even after the Federal Government's press conference on 6 May 2020, politicians made no clear statement regarding public swimming pools in Germany. This must now quickly end as otherwise the swimming pool operators will remain in a state of limbo. Time is crucial for open-air swimming pools. They have a lead time of up to three weeks between official permission to open and the actual start of operation of the facilities. It is already clear that a large number of open-air swimming pools could open at the earliest at the start of June. Whether local authorities will be able to do this is another matter entirely. We urgently pointed this out to politicians. We are disappointed that so little attention is being paid to swimming pools. Especially in corona times, public swimming pools need a dedicated political lobby. Nobody now no longer doubts that we are faced with a recession along with lower trade tax revenues for local authorities. All voluntary essential services provided by local authorities will be under scrutiny sooner or later. It can already be predicted that local authorities need a "rescue package" in order to fulfil their tasks in the area of essential services. If this rescue package is not available, we must expect municipal public services to become a general problem. There is reason to fear that planned investments in swimming pools will be deferred and that there will be more discussions about closing swimming pools. This is unacceptable. Innovations in the areas of pool construction, pool operation and pool and bath technology will become even more important. Companies, operators and trade associations have a great responsibility here.
Will public swimming pools benefit from the proposed "climate recovery package" to promote long-term investments in environmentally-friendly technologies?
We are very certain here and have actually seen how much swimming pools benefited from corresponding economic stimulus packages after the "Lehmann crisis". Energy efficiency and sustainability are nothing new for the area of pools and baths. Companies, planners, operators and our Association are now already working intensively on the refinement of corresponding concepts.
In spite of the crisis relating to swimming pools, saunas, spas and wellness, we are currently talking about many interesting topics and also positive prospects. In view of this situation, how much importance do you attach to interbad in October this year?
This will be the most important interbad for many years, and perhaps the most important interbad ever! Society and industry are being reorganised in new ways at present. It is already being said that the corona crisis will signal the turn of a new era. This means that the participants in the pool and bath industry will also have to fundamentally adopt a new position at times. Although this will pose enormous challenges for everyone, there will also be opportunities which would never have arisen without the corona crisis. Digitalisation is experiencing a boom which was unforeseen just a few weeks ago. Suppliers of digital access control systems have been overwhelmed with inquiries. Administrative, sales and management processes are being developed within weeks in steps for which years were estimated before the corona crisis. This will also rapidly change the swimming pool industry even though the physical basis will naturally remain a swimming pool with water. At interbad 2020 we will have experienced the start of an age of new normality and will be confronted with many innovations and challenges which will make the exchange of information and ideas at a communication and knowledge platform like interbad more indispensable than ever. We will also see enormous challenges due to the economic problems of local authorities. There will be great demand for innovative pool and bath concepts which emphasise the functionality and efficiency of municipal public services. The question of spas and wellness in an era of new normality, which will be characterised by new general conditions for leisure pools, thermal baths, tourism and hotels, will be another key topic. interbad in October this year will be decisive for all these questions.
interbad, the international trade fair for swimming pools, saunas and spas, is the world's most important platform in the sector for public swimming pools and one of the top 3 trade fairs for all interests of private swimming pool owners. Globally, it is the trade fair with the largest product range in the field of saunas. On an area of 35,000 square metres, more than 400 exhibitors present their products and services in the field of public bath construction, swimming pool technology, pools, saunas, spas and wellness. Around 15,000 visitors from more than 60 countries learn about the latest products, trends and pioneering ideas. Numerous presentations, workshops and discussion sessions in two congress formats round off the offering. The next interbad will take place from 27 to 30 October 2020 at Messe Stuttgart. For more information, visit: www.interbad.de