BERLIN, 27 February 2020: Organisers of the up-coming ITB Berlin have reiterated the show will go on, 4 to 8 March, despite one travel trade news service saying it should be postponed.
E-Turbonews, earlier in the week, said it was predicting the show would be cancelled or postponed at the last minute prompting ITB Berlin chairman David Ruetz to confidently tweet the “event will take place despite the spread of Covid-19.”
If ITB Berlin did cancel the show, it would be the first time in 54 years since the show launched in 1966. ITB Berlin attracts 100,000 trade visitors from 180 countries representing more than 10,000 travel organisations.
Ruetz said delegations from China would be absent at this year’s show, but the pavilions showcasing China would be manned by local tour operators that partner with Chinese travel firms.
ITB Berlin tweeted 25 February saying the show must go on, but some twitter followers disagreed.
One Berliner tweeted: “ With this decision, you risk the health of 4 million residents and commuters of Berlin who share the crowded subways with your trade fair exhibitors. A terrific decision that is at least grossly negligent. The main thing is to generate sales. Bravo.”
ITB explained that there were no restrictions for Chinese, Asian, or Italians travelling to Germany.
“Travellers from some countries may be asked when entering the EU Schengen region if they visited countries affected by the coronavirus or had contact with people from such regions.
“To protect exhibitors and visitors at ITB, we will add staff to clean and disinfect. In addition, we suggest visitors to ITB wash their hands and don’t cough. Shaking hands may also not be advisable.”
In contrast to ITB Berlin’s business-as-usual assurances, the organisers of an even larger trade show, Light+Buidling, due to be hosted in Frankfurt 8 to 13 March moved the show dates to this September. It attracts more than 220,000 trade visitors.
While carnival parades are ongoing in the German cities Duesseldorf and Cologne, the German Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn was scheduled on Wednesday to make a statement on whether large-scale events should be postponed in Germany or not.
The threat of cancellation also hangs over other major travel events such as the upcoming Arabian Travel Market in Dubai scheduled to open 22 April.