The hospitality community is awaiting a decision on the hosting of ITB Berlin next week.
With just days to go until the expected debut on March 4th, there have been calls from within Germany for the cancellation of the event.
Federal minister of the interior, Horst Seehofer, is among those calling for the event to be postponed as the world continues to battle the outbreak of a novel coronavirus.
“I personally believe that you cannot perform,” he said.
“That risk at such a large tourism fair, with representatives from those affected regions, and with expected 150,000 visitors, expected it not calculable.”
Germany has to date seen around 50 coronavirus cases.
However, ITB Berlin is considered the preeminent tradeshow for the European travel community, with many insiders calling for the event to go ahead as planned.
Exhibitors, delegates and organisers all stand to be substantially out of pocket should the event be cancelled.
Organisers at Messe Berlin have so far maintained that the event will go ahead.
A statement added: “Messe Berlin is currently coordinating with the public authorities at federal and state level on how to proceed with regard to ITB Berlin 2020 and COVID-19.
“It is expected that more detailed information will be available in the evening of February 28th at the earliest.
“We will inform you as soon as we have new information.”
Much love from our team!— ITB Berlin (@ITB_Berlin) February 26, 2020
Yes, we’ve been a little quiet here. Rest assured that we’re doing our best to handle the current situation. And yes, we’ve never encountered a situation like this in 54 years of ITB! Let’s keep our heads up!
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All guests attending the show will be expected to sign a declaration on arrival stating they are not part of an at risk group.
The number of attendees is also expected to be lower than normal.
An ITB Berlin statement added: “Due to the current spread of the coronavirus in Europe, the organiser expects lower visitor numbers at ITB Berlin.
“Please understand that due to the dynamic situation, we are currently unable to make any statements about concrete visitor numbers.”
In the build up to the show, ITB Berlin had been seeing strong demand.
With 10,000 organisations and companies from over 180 countries attending, the event is fully-booked again this year.
“Our fully-booked halls are proof that even in the age of flight shame, overtourism, climate change and the coronavirus, ITB Berlin is still the focal point for the travel industry and radiates an international aura.
“For the global travel industry participating in large numbers and face-to-face meetings are important,” said David Ruetz, head of ITB Berlin.
He added: “At present the effects of the coronavirus are very limited.
“To date two Chinese exhibitors have cancelled.
“A large number of Chinese stands are run by staff from Germany and Europe and are thus not affected by cancellations.
“The safety of our visitors and exhibitors has the utmost priority.
“We are in permanent contact with the public health authorities and will take all recommended measures as and when they become necessary.”
ITB Berlin is already independently taking active measures.
Thus, there are additional medical specialists and first responders as well as English-speaking staff on the grounds and the sanitary facilities are being cleaned and disinfected at more frequent intervals.
ITB Berlin 2020 is set to tale place from March 4th-8th.
In 2019, a total of 10,000 companies and organisations from 181 countries exhibited their products and services to around 160,000 visitors, including 113.500 trade visitors.
For more information please visit the official website.