BERLIN, 20 December 2021: ITB Berlin flagged the world’s largest travel trade show will revert to an online-only edition March 2022 for the third year in a row.
In an announcement on 16 December, show organiser Messe Berin confirmed the in-person edition of ITB Berlin 2022 would not take place as originally planned. The fast spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 is causing havoc across Europe, with countries reverting to travel restrictions and curtailing large scale gatherings.
Messe Berlin cancelled the 2020 ITB Berlin just days before the show was supposed to open. As a result, it faced considerable criticism from disgruntled exhibitors, many of whom had already arrived in Europe to attend the show. In 2021 Messe Berlin decided to host a virtual show with some hybrid conference sessions. Up until the Omicron variant emerged, the travel industry confidently forecast 2022 would see the return of shows like ITB Berlin, but with so many questions unanswered on the Omicron variant, event organisers are facing tough decisions on whether to risk hosting large scale shows.
“Messe Berlin is unable to afford its exhibitors and partners the necessary planning certainty with the holding of an in-person ITB Berlin in early March,” the statement read.
“The current situation surrounding the pandemic, as well as the tightened travel restrictions and limits imposed on the numbers that can take part in large events made Messe Berlin take this step.”
A proposal floated around to move the event to the summer of 2022 but failed to gain traction as “the annual dates of ITB Berlin are deliberately chosen, as exhibitors mainly do advance bookings and allotments with tour operators from January to March.
Messe Berlin CEO Martin Ecknig said he would strengthen the digital elements of ITB Berlin at the ITB Berlin Convention and plan additional services and events in virtual and in-person formats.
ITB Berlin says it will be back again with an in-person event on 8 to 10 March 2023 at its traditional Berlin Exhibition Grounds location.