Panic is spreading around the world regarding coronavirus effects as international events are cancelling day by day. The latest cancellation of the biggest travel event, ITB Berlin, makes travel professionals wonder what will be the future of the travel industry in 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 Friday 28th, at 18:27 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.“
visitBerlin CEO Burkhard Kieker referring to the cancellation of the ITB Berlin 2020 said: “Messe Berlin has decided to cancel this year’s ITB. The decision has been taken against the background of the public health department stepping up measures to help prevent the further spread of the coronavirus. In cancelling the ITB 2020, those responsible are reacting to current concerns among parts of the general public and in the travel industry. This is the first time the ITB has ever been cancelled – and it is indicative of the challenges which the coronavirus poses for the travel sector. Berlin and its hosts regret the cancellation, but understand the necessity even though as yet there have been no COVID-19 cases confirmed in Berlin. We are hopeful the situation will improve as soon as possible.”
Chairman at ASIAN TRAILS Group Luzi Matzig commented: "If we - the leaders in tourism - do no longer travel because of exaggerated fears of getting the virus - we are setting a bad example for potential tourist whom we want to visit our countries!"