Organisers of the ITB travel trade fair, in liaison with the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Economics in Germany have decided to cancel ITB Berlin 2020.
This, they said on Friday, was as a result of the increasing spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
“With more than 10,000 exhibitors from over 180 countries, ITB Berlin is of outstanding importance for the global tourism industry. We take our responsibility for the health and safety of our guests, exhibitors and employees very seriously. It is with a heavy heart that we look forward to the cancellation of ITB Berlin 2020, which has now become necessary,” said Dr. Christian Göke, CEO of Messe Berlin GmbH.
Africa Tembelea understands that in the 54-year history of ITB Berlin and Messe Berlin, there has never been a comparable situation.
“We would like to thank all exhibitors and partners around the world who have supported ITB Berlin in the past days and weeks, and look forward to continuing our trusting cooperation with our partners in the market,” noted Wolf-Dieter Wolf, the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Messe Berlin.
The fair was due to open next Wednesday (March 4th), but concerns grew over the viability of hosting huge numbers of visitors as Germany recorded a jump in the number of infected residents.
With confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in Europe’s biggest economy rising above 60, more than 1,000 people were in quarantine in Germany’s most populous state Friday.
The district of Heinsberg in North Rhine-Westphalia said it had to take the step of keeping around 1,000 on their homes as an infected couple had participated in carnival celebrations in mid-February.
Africa Tembelea has also learnt that the German government has ordered local authorities in the country’s 16 states to update their pandemic readiness plans.
It also from Thursday began requiring travelers’ arriving from China, South Korea, Japan, Iran and Italy to provide contact details in case their movements had to be traced over possible infections.
Of the 10,000 exhibitors expected at ITB from all over the world, 22 would have come from China and 25 others from Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The organisers of the fair – which was slated to run from March 4th-8th – originally expected about 160,000 visitors, but had lowered their estimates somewhat over the last few days.
Yet only a few days before the cancellation, the venue Messe Berlin and the organisers of the ITB had expressed their confidence that the fair would take place as planned.
In the course of the week, the requirements for exhibitors were then tightened. Take for instance, no participants were to be admitted who had been in risk areas, or who showed symptoms of the virus.
Meanwhile, the ITB in China, which was planned for May, had already been cancelled by the organisers last week.