New reality strikes ‘physical’ ITB Berlin

BERLIN, 30 October 2020: The new reality dawns; ITB Berlin arguably the world’s oldest travel trade show confirms the 2021 edition will return but as an “entirely virtual event.”

Now 10 months into the Covid-19 pandemic, most major trade shows scheduled over the next six months have cancelled or postponed dates to later in 2021.

The ASEAN Tourism Forum scheduled for Cambodia January 2021could be the next high profile casualty in Asia, based on feedback from reliable trade sources close to the show organisers. They told TTR Weekly the event has already been cancelled although Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism has not responded to an email seeking clarity.

Meanwhile, Messe Berlin keen to avoid a repeat of the “on and off” fiasco that played out just days before the 2020 show was due to open has issued an advance statement on the status of next year’s event. The 9 to 12 March 2021 event will now convene online leaving the sprawling Messe Berlin show pavilions empty for the second year in a row.

Messe Berlin said in a media statement issued Thursday that the decision was taken after weighing all the circumstances. ITB Berlin 2021 and the accompanying ITB Berlin Convention will both migrate to an online platform for four days rather than three for an exclusive travel trade audience

“The situation surrounding the pandemic remains difficult, particularly for the travel and tourism industry. Our decision to hold ITB Berlin 2021 as an entirely virtual event now provides exhibitors and trade visitors with maximum planning certainty,” said  ITB Berlin head David Ruetz.

“We have developed an alternative concept with which can offer our partners and customers a reliable platform for global networking, business and content.”

Among other features, the virtual concept of ITB Berlin 2021 will include numerous live-streamed high-level panel discussions and lectures as well as digital networking opportunities, an intelligent matchmaking event and a virtual exhibition area.

Messe Berlin promises to update the travel trade worldwide, 16 November on exhibitor and sponsorship packages, tickets and booking options. It claims that recent experiments with virtual formats have been positive. With the launch of itb.com last March the team had already established a global virtual platform for the tourism industry.

In mid-October, ITB Berlin and the Berlin Travel Festival, as well as ITB Asia in Singapore, successfully held virtual tourism events.

ITB Berlin founded in 1966 had an uninterrupted run up until 2020 featuring tourism content from 180 countries with more than 100,000 travel trade executives attending the show annually.

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