Organisers of the ITB Berlin tradeshow have been forced to cancel the annual event as the world continues to battle a coronavirus outbreak.
As many as 150,000 international visitors had been expected at Messe Berlin, with the event due to start on Wednesday, March 4th.
ITB Berlin is considered the preeminent tradeshow for the European hospitality market, and its loss will be keenly felt across the industry.
Wolf-Dieter Wolf, chairman of the supervisory board of Messe Berlin, explained: “In their now 54-year history ITB Berlin and Messe Berlin have never before experienced 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.”
Federal officials in Germany were understood to have been against the staging of the annual showcase, with the risk of further coronavirus infections believed to be too high.
There have to date been around 50 cases reported in the country, with officials keen to avoid further contamination.
Messe Berlin has been pointing out for weeks that the decision to hold or cancel major events can only be made on the basis of the recommendation or instruction of the relevant authorities.
Only these authorities have all the necessary information and expertise to draw the right conclusions, officials said.
In the build up to the show, ITB Berlin had been seeing strong demand.
Christian Göke, chief executive of Messe Berlin, added: “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.”
With 10,000 organisations and companies from over 180 countries attending, the event was fully-booked.
Get the latest information on the cancellation here.
Questex earlier cancelled the International Hospitality Investment Forum, which had also been due to take place next week in Berlin.