ITB Berlin Cancelled Just Days Before Global Travel Industry Was Set To Arrive
Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw
Just days before 100,000 travel industry members were set to gather in Berlin for the annual ITB travel trade fair, organizers have cancelled the event over coronavirus fears.
The fair was due to open next Wednesday (4MAR), but concerns over the viability of hosting huge numbers of visitors were growing this week even before as Germany recorded a jump in the number of infected residents. Confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in Europe's biggest economy have risen above 60.
"We take our responsibility for the security and the health of our guests, exhibitors and employees very seriously. It is with a heavy heart that we have to look at the necessary cancellation of the ITB Berlin 2020," said Christian Göke, chairman of Messe Berlin, organizer of the trade fair.
Organizers of what is billed as the world’s largest tourism trade fair have been getting online criticism this week, as they maintained the event would go ahead, despite the fast-moving coronavirus outbreak. Several companies publicly cancelled their participation prior to the final decision being made.
Organizers defended their inaction by saying only “relevant authorities have all the necessary information and expertise to draw the right conclusions.”
That happened today when health officials increased the requirements for the event to take place. Among other things, authorities said trade fair participant would have to prove to Messe Berlin that they do not come from the defined risk areas or have had contact with a person from the risk areas.
“Messe Berlin is unable to implement all these requirements,” the group said in a statement on the ITB Berlin website.
The cancellation is the first in the 54 years since the show launched in 1966. ITB Berlin attracts 100,000 trade visitors from 180 countries.
Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief
An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.