ITB Berlin 2020 cancelled due to coronavirus

Organisers heed advice of Germany's Ministry of Health and Economics

One of the world’s largest annual travel shows, ITB Berlin, has been shelved for 2020 within days of its official starting date due to the “rapid spread” of COVID-19.

ITB Berlin was scheduled to run from 4 to 8 March, 2020.

The organiser, Messe Berlin GmbH, has been providing regular updates to concerned delegates on the official ITB website for several days. A week ago it confirmed the event was still set to go ahead, even highlighting that there was “no entry ban on visitors to Germany for citizens from China, Asia or Italy”. On Thursday this week, Messe Berlin indicated that visitor number would be down on previous years and that delays should be expected at entry points due to tight screening of visitors and security measures.

ITB Berlin's Facebook account: "Much love from our ITB team ❤" (on Thursday 27 February)...
... to heartbroken cookies (28 February)

However, last Friday [28 February, 2020] evening in Germany a decision was announced that “ITB Berlin 2020 will not take place”, based on the recommendations of specialist authorities.

“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,” Messe Berlin said.

“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,” the company said.

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,” Wolf added.

The next ITB Berlin is planned for 10 to 14 March, 2021.

IPW 2020 in Las Vegas remains on track

Meanwhile Malcolm Smith, General Manager of America’s annual travel trade show, IPW, used the ITB Berlin cancellation as an opportunity to update delegates participating in this year’s event in Las Vegas, from 30 May to 3 June, 2020.

While still several months away, Smith said IPW 2020 is currently “all systems go”.

“Registration is strong from both domestic and international attendees.”

“US public health and security officials, as recently as yesterday, have been clear in stating that the threat of COVID-19 in the United States remains low. We will continue to follow the guidance offered by these leading health authorities and be guided by the most up to date information available,” Smith continued.

“Any alternative decisions will be informed by expert advice. We aim to react properly to this current situation, but not to overreact.

“Our concern is for all who are affected by this health challenge, and we are hopeful for a swift resolution that keeps travelers to and within America safe and secure,” he concluded.

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