Messe Berlin, the organisers of the biggest tourism fair on earth, moved in the last decade after a long time of hesitation to develop spin-offs in Asia of its successful ITB Berlin. The first one started in 2008 in Singapore as ITB Asia, to be followed in 2017 by ITB China in Shanghai. From this year ITB India in Mumbai adds the third fair in Asia to the portfolio. As we all know, unfortunately this year started as awful as could be imagined with the CoVid-19. As a result, for the industry, aircrafts were grounded and borders shut. Not only travel connected with China has been affected, but also other trips were postponed or cancelled to avoid a possible infection.
After other tourism fairs in China were cancelled for 2020 (GITF) or moved to a later date (COTTM), last week Messe Berlin also announced that the ITB China would not take place in 2020, even though by that time of the year in May the virus crisis should be over. The fate of the SWTF Shanghai World Travel Forum, which was planned to be held in April is still unclear as is the fate of the first ITB India, which is/was planned for April. ITB Asia (in October) should not be affected anymore by the current situation.
ITB Berlin, which seemed to be in danger as well after the cancellation of the MWC fair in Barcelona, will however, as far as is known today, go ahead next week. Any other decision would constitute a declaration of surrender by the global tourism industry. Visitors and exhibitors from China will not attend, but many Chinese companies and provinces will use their staff permanently based outside of China or those who did not return from their overseas trip during Chinese New Year to man their stands.
CoVid-19 will certainly be a big topic during ITB Berlin and your humble editor is grateful to have been invited by WTCF World Tourism Cities Federation to participate in a panel discussion on Thursday 6th, from 12.00-12.45 h in CityCube Berlin, Hall A4/A5 as part of the ITB Convention. The title is Coronavirus Outbreak: Effects On Global Tourism And Successful Recovery And Resilience Measures. All visitors of ITB Berlin are invited to participate and we are looking forward to meet many of our esteemed readers during the panel discussion and during the whole ITB Berlin.
Best wishes from Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt and the COTRI WEEKLY team!