By Susmita Ghosh
Only five days before, the ill-fated decision of cancelling the world’s biggest travel event, ITB Berlin 2020, came as a shock to the entire travel industry! The fair was supposed to commence on March 4!
Due to the rapid spread of the new strain of Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Economics have expressed their concerns about holding the event.
As ITB Berlin is huge and attended by thousands of travel trade professionals from all over the world, the officials felt scared opening the borders to attendees may spike the cases in the country. Around over 500 reported cases of Coronavirus in Europe, while Italy registered a 25 percent surge in Coronavirus cases in 24 hours and the infections remain centred on outbreaks in two northern regions – Lombardy and Veneto.
This is the first time in the 54-year history of the event that ITB Berlin and Messe Berlin experienced such situation. With more than 10,000 exhibitors from over 180 countries ITB Berlin is extremely important for the world’s tourism industry. Exhibitors should be protected to not have to pay for stand cost, but costs involved with travel, hiring staff, the material is a different matter. Many side events around ITB may now also be cancelled.
Dr. Christian Göke, CEO of Messe Berlin GmbH, said: “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: “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.”