Today it was announced that 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 canceled. The responsible health authority of the district of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf in Berlin has imposed significantly tighter restrictions on holding the event, including stipulating that each participant prove to Messe Berlin that they are not from a designated risk area or have not been in contact with a person or persons from a risk area. According to a statement issued by Messe Berlin, it is not possible to satisfy these requirements overall.
“Not once in the 54-year history of the event have ITB Berlin and Messe Berlin experienced a similar situation,” said the chairman of the Supervisory Board of Messe Berlin Wolf-Dieter Wolf in a statement.
“With more than 10,000 exhibitors from over 180 countries, ITB Berlin is extremely important for the world’s tourism industry,” said Dr. Christian Goke, CEO of Messe Berlin GmbH, in a statement. “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.”
Travel advisor Susan Farewell, owner of Farewell Travels LLC, a Connecticut-based travel design firm, responded to the announcement by stating that, “I am guessing they had to cancel ITB because of the fear of the unknown. Not knowing what’s happening and where it’s going is a very real fear and people are afraid to travel. I have become a shrink of sorts helping my clients sort through the conflicting emotions they have right now. One woman wasn’t sure if she was being irresponsible for going on a trip or irresponsible for not going. Another client, who has made a huge deposit for a fabulous anniversary trip, is fraught with anxiety as the market is wreaking havoc on his portfolio. I also have a client who has been looking forward to going to the Olympics in Tokyo for over a year. Now they’re wondering if the Games will even take place this summer. My role right now is to stay calm and help my clients sort through these feelings and concerns. I find myself saying over and over again, ‘Try to get outside and do something you love this weekend. Go hiking or whatever you can do to get your mind off of it.’”
Additionally, VisitBerlin’s CEO Burkhard Kieker said in a statement that, “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.”