Coronavirus becomes a threat to the global travel and tourism industry.
Manfred Busche launched the first ITB Berlin trade show event in 1966. It was part of an overseas import trade show: Nine exhibitors from five countries – Brazil, Egypt, the Federal Republic of Germany, Guinea, and Iraq presented their products and services to 250 trade visitors in a display area of 580m2.
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This year, ITB Berlin 2020 is by far the largest travel trade show in the world, setting trends for this important industry. ITB Berlin is organized by Messe Berlin in the German Capital City.
Canceling ITB Berlin would be a first. It could be a dramatic and very costly move. It may also send a devastating message about the state of the global visitors’ industry.
ITB Berlin 2020 facts:
- Trade visitor days: 4 – 8 March
- Public visitors weekend: 7 – 8 March
- 10,000 exhibitors from over 180 countries
- 5,000 journalists and over 500 travel bloggers
- 160,000 visitors
- 400 top speakers and 350 sessions at the ITB Berlin Convention
Coronavirus got everyone whispering on how safe it could be to attend this international trade show and shake hands with people from all corners of the globe. Hotel rates started to go down in Berlin indicating there may be some hesitation.
eTurboNews asked our 230,000 travel industry readers who was booked to attend ITB Berlin. eTurboNews asked if those planning to attend are moving forward with their travel arrangements or are cancelling due to the threat of coronavirus.
- 48% of travel professionals asked are planning to attend despite the coronavirus situation.
- 37%, including 4 exhibitors told eTurboNews, they canceled their participation.
- 15% are in a state of wait and see.
Combining the wait and see responses with the no answer, the majority participating in the eTurboNews survey want ITB to cancel or postpone the event.
eTurboNews received entries from Vietnam, USA, Papua New Guinea, France, Germany, Taiwan, Philippines, Thailand, Nepal, India, Jordan, Ghana, Tanzania, Egypt, Bangladesh, Latvia, UK, and Poland.
A reader from Texas writes in response to the eTN survey:
This is a good question. Thank you for having the courage to ask it.
Statistically, it’s probably as safe as going to your local grocery store in flu season because in the USA alone we lose between 20,000 and 50,000 annually just to the flu.
I understand the majority are people that have already serious health issues. I believe each person should evaluate their own health and health practices. If a person has a weak immune system and or other significant areas that compromise their health, they might consider skipping this one. Travel and Trade shows can be very stressful so it is not uncommon to find a number of people at them sick, and if they are then exposed to a virus such as a coronavirus, it could be a real problem.
If you tend to not get sick easily or often, you probably have a stronger immune system and/or better health practices. You would probably want to increase normal precautions, and absolutely move AWAY from anyone that appears to be ill, but otherwise do as normal.
I’m curious to hear other responses.
A reader from Seattle, USA writes: I canceled because of the virus! Too many people & our Chinese clients canceled as well …
A reader from France writes: It is a world event. Unsure which health measures are to be taken nor whether they will guarantee safety and non-tansmission
Dagmar Schreiber from Berlin said: It is too risky in the time if corona-virus!
Jean Glock from Virginia, USA said: The entire travel industry must pull together and show the world we are not afraid to travel at this time. To cancel such a big Conference at this time is tantamount to saying “we give up”.
Mohammed Ali from Bangladesh said he was attending: I love to attend ITB because it is the biggest travel gathering in the world where you could meet many people of the same trade.
Goodluck Mrema from Tanzania said: ITB Berlin should go ahead.
Visitors from Wuhan need not attend. Handshakes should be limited.
A reader from Phuket, Thailand suggests: Please reschedule until the coronavirus outbreak stopped.
B. Ramesh from Bengaluru, India said: When the entire world is suffering from the fear factor of Coronavirus, can we expect the world to come and meet us, we are not assured of investment returns at this juncture, surely this time of the year its not advisable to conduct ITB-BERLIN.
Andrew Wood from SKAL Bangkok, Thailand said: I always come back with either a cold or flu. With n-Cov it could become deadly. Why take the risk? There are always other shows and email.
John Abrahams, India: Suggest we postpone it or cancel.
Bishwombhar Lamsal from Nepal comments: We (Nepalese) love our neighbors – China & India so much. They have impacted our daily lives in A LOT different ways! We won’t be that much happier and contained NOT to see; shake hands and hug our (Chinese) neighbors who have always been our potential clients/business associates. By simply not attending, at least, I am trying my best to say to them I am concerned and worry about one of our best neighbors in the world. Developing a vaccine can take years. With a fast-spreading virus, a few years is a very long time!
A reader from Miami, Florida, USA writes: I am scheduled to go but honestly am worried and having second thoughts. Will be clear by the 20th of February.
Wolfgang König from Berlin said: I am sure, ITB will be safe. Precautions may have to be done, but it will be fine.
Edouard Georgen from Phoenix, Arizona, USA says: No reason to worry and enough panic created by a certain press and social media.
Frances from Los Angeles, California, USA thinks: It definitely is a scary time to be in close contact with thousands of people!!
A reader from Hua Hin, Thailand says: Come on! Such an overreaction. Too much Zombie Apocalypse!
eTurboNews reached out to Messe Berlin, but there was no reaction so far.
ITB Berlin is not the only ITB event with a question mark. ITB China in Shanghai posted the following information:
Dear ITB China guest, ITB China is set to take place at the Shanghai World Expo Exhibition and Convention Center from 13-15 May 2020. Parts of China are currently facing the outbreak of a virus infection, broadly referred to as the Corona Virus.
The local authorities have taken immediate measures of containment in response and are regularly renewing their overall risk evaluation.
The ITB China team is closely monitoring the situation and will keep you up to date with any upcoming developments.