The cancellation of ITB Berlin last week could not be avoided after the number of positively tested persons in many European countries shot up and even the first Swedish person was reported to have been infected during a visit to Germany. A good opportunity to discuss within the global travel community the reaction to SARS-CoV-2 has been lost next to millions of wasted hours of work and dollars and euros on the preparation of the participation or visit to ITB Berlin.
In the meantime several international experts have reconfirmed that it is very likely that within the next two years 40 to 70 percent of all human beings will be infected with the SARS-CoV-2, but that few will develop CoViD-19 symptoms and even less will actually die from it. Apart from the currently about 5,000 reported cases in about 60 countries outside of China, there will be already millions of persons carrying the virus without ever to know it, as it will not have any negative effects other than being used as a carrier to spread it further. If one would test today all personnel working for instance at the main international airports, it seems very likely that quite a few of them would test positively.
In the coming weeks many countries will probably out of necessity increase testing and accordingly find infected persons in the thousands, joining South Korea, Japan, Italy and Iran. This will make the policy of putting all contact persons of them in quarantine or testing them as well impossible to put into practice, as most of the infected will have been moving around for weeks before, meeting many and mostly unidentifiable persons.
The next step will – hopefully – be an end to media hype, stock market crashs, hoarding buying sprees and even to French museum workers strikes, based on the realisation that this is a dangerous illness which needs global attention, but not the end of the world.
In China most provinces except Hubei have reported no or very few new cases of persons showing symptoms of CoViD-19 or dying from it in the last week. According the Caixin, a growing number of China’s tourist attractions is reported as reopening, with “millions of Chinese who have spent much of the last month voluntarily confined to their homes starting to venture out more and planning trips for upcoming holidays in April and May on hopes the virus will be mostly a memory by then”. So China could actually be one of the first outbound markets getting back on track if allowed to do so.
As Tom Jenkins, CEO of ETOA said after according to eTN after ITB Berlin was cancelled: “China is a vital and growing market that now needs – it deserves – cultivation and support. The recovery will come, and we need to lay the groundwork now.”
Last week COTRI together with Nepal Tourism Board organised a webinar with 200 participants about the correct reaction of Nepal to the current situation and the best specific steps forward for Nepal to prepare for the next wave of Chinese outbound visitors. A number of NTOs and DMOs have already signalled their interest and COTRI is of course available for all organisations and companies to organise such customised webinars or face-to-face workshops.
Regretting not to meet some of our readers this week in Berlin, with best wishes, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt and the COTRI WEEKLY team.