Coronavirus cancels world’s largest travel trade show

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The world’s leading travel show and tourism trade fair, ITB Berlin, held annually since 1966, has cancelled this year’s event just two weeks before the scheduled opening, in the face of coronavirus.

ITB Berlin 2020 (Internationale Tourismus-Börse Berlin) was due to have been held 10-14 March 2020. A massive event which takes place each March at the Messe Berlin, ITB Berlin caters for hotels, tourist boards, tour operators, system providers, airlines and car rental companies. It attracts thousands of participants and the decision by the organisers to cancel at short notice, on medical grounds, throws into doubt many smaller trade shows of all sorts, throughout the world.

ITB Berlin’s organisers issued the following press release on Friday:

Update: Coronavirus 28.02.2020 

ITB Berlin 2020 will not take place.

Due to the rapid spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Economics have stated their opinion that ITB Berlin be cancelled. This evening at 1827 hrs, the responsible health authority of the district of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf in Berlin imposed significantly tighter restrictions on holding the event. Among its requirements the authority stipulated that each participant would need to prove to Messe Berlin that they were not from a designated risk area or had not been in contact with a person or persons from a risk area. It is not possible for Messe Berlin to satisfy these requirements overall.

Messe Berlin had for weeks made it known that a decision on holding or cancelling large-scale events would only be taken based on the recommendations or instructions of the relevant specialist authorities. Only they possess the necessary information and specialist knowledge in order to draw the right conclusions.

Dr. Christian Göke, CEO of Messe Berlin GmbH, said: ”With more than 10,000 exhibitors from over 180 countries ITB Berlin is extremely important for the world’s tourism industry. We take our responsibility for the health and safety of our visitors, exhibitors and employees very seriously. It is with a heavy heart that we must now come to terms with the cancellation of ITB Berlin 2020.”

Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Messe Berlin Wolf-Dieter Wolf said: “Not once in the 54-year history of the event have ITB Berlin and Messe Berlin experienced a similar situation. We would like to thank all exhibitors and partners from all over the world who over the past few days and weeks have stood by ITB Berlin. We look forward to continuing the trusted relationship with our partners in the market.”

Edited by Peter Needham