The ITB China Special Edition planned to take place on the 7th and 8th of May 2021 in Beijing, was supposed to be a newly designed hybrid event, combining a core trade show and convention elements in a compact format. Destinations and suppliers were promised to be able to promote their products and services for two full days and meet top-level buyers from China‘s leading travel agencies face-to-face at their booths during the exclusive and prescheduled B2B meeting sessions and each days’ exclusive networking lunch. A strong conference line-up with comprehensive hybrid functionalities and the option to be represented onsite by dedicated and individually instructed ITB China booth hostesses for exhibitors who are not able to attend in person were offered as well.
Alas, last week Messe Berlin had to announce that the ITB China Special Edition will not take place as planned in May “due to the cross-border restrictions resulting from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic”. Instead, an offline industry gathering at the end of June is planned to provide an invitation-only networking event for China-based industry professionals to exchange updates and insights on the future of the Chinese travel market.
After the mixed results of the ITB Berlin NOW earlier this month, which was hampered by many technical difficulties, and the announcement that Saudi Arabia will be the Official Partner Country of ITB India 2021 next month, which raised quite a few eyebrows, this is another blow for the most important tourism fair in the world and especially its China offshoot. Gone are the “dedicated and individually instructed ITB China booth hostesses”, as only those representatives of international companies already residing – or stuck – in China have a chance to be invited, because Chinese travel agencies are, at least according to David Axiotis, General Manager of ITB China, not yet ready to resume regular business activities.
Even for the postponed ITB China and the accompanying ITB China Conference, planned to take place in Shanghai from 24th to 26th of November 2021, a hybrid concept is going to be announced, “that will allow all exhibitors regardless of their location” to participate – without hostesses as stand-ins but Zoom appearances instead, it seems.
Meanwhile, GITF Guangzhou International Travel Fair, the oldest travel fair in China, is reacting in a less fuzzy way to the ongoing pandemic: The postponed fair will go ahead as planned in June, but this year as a purely domestic tourism fair without international exhibitors and also without the COTRI-organised international conference. In February 2022, GITF will revert to the former format with international exhibitors and an even bigger conference concentrating on the recovery process of Chinese outbound tourism in the Greater Bay Area.
Please allow me the self-indulgence to mention that last week we also got a message from one of our loyal COTRI Weekly readers, praising the “positive, humble, data-driven and personal tone” of the Editorials. As Esteban Vihaio in Kill Bill 2 is saying: “I must warn you, young lady, I am susceptible to flattery.” Nevertheless, we all thank you for the encouragement!
As always, all best wishes for the week from Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt and the COTRI Weekly team!
The video version of this editorial is available on COTRI YouTube Channel.
PS: Easter Holidays are coming, therefore the next edition of COTRI Weekly will be published on April 13th, 2021.