The “world’s biggest travel industry event”, ITB Berlin, has been cancelled due to the “rapid spread” of coronavirus.
ITB Berlin posted on its website last night that Germany’s Federal Ministry of Health and Federal Ministry of Economics had agreed the event, due to take place from 4-8 March, should not go ahead.
ITB, which attracts 10,000 exhibitors and 160,000 visitors in total, posted on its website that responsible health authority, the district of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf in Berlin, had imposed significantly tighter restrictions on holding the event, including that each participant would need to prove to the venue, Messe Berlin, that they were not from a designated risk area or had not been in contact with people from a risk area.
“It is not possible for Messe Berlin to satisfy these requirements overall,” ITB said.
“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 Goke, chief executive of Messe Berlin, added: “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, added: “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.”
Replying to comments on Twitter enquiring whether any exhibitor costs would be covered, ITB said due to the short notice of cancellation and the large number of exhibitors “we ask for your understanding that we will check these questions internally”. It added this could take from 10 days to two weeks.
ITB added on Twitter that it wanted to thank visitors, exhibitors and partners around the world who have supported it in the past days and weeks and that it looked forward to welcoming delegates to 2021’s event from 10-14 March.