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BREAKING NEWS: ITB Berlin Cancelled in Wake of Coronavirus Spread; IMEX Frankfurt Moving Ahead

ITB Berlin 2020, billed as the world’s leading travel trade show, announced it is cancelling its March 4-8 convention in the German capital due to the spread of coronavirus, or COVID-19.

The decision was made after the health authority of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf of Berlin ordered every participant to prove to the Messe Berlin convention center that they are not coming from defined risk areas or have had contact with a person from the risk areas.

[Related: Coronavirus Risk Management Tips for Meetings and Event]

Messe Berlin said it would be unable to implement the requirements.

"With more than 10,000 exhibitors from over 180 countries, ITB Berlin is of outstanding importance for the global tourism industry,” said Dr. Christian Göke, CEO of Messe Berlin, in a statement announcing the cancellation. “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.”

VisitBerlin CEO Burkhard Kieker made the following comment on the cancellation of TIB Berlin:

“Messe Berlin has decided to cancel this year’s ITB. The decision has been taken against the background of the public health department stepping up measures to help prevent the further spread of the coronavirus.

“In cancelling the ITB 2020, those responsible are reacting to current concerns among parts of the general public and in the travel industry. This is the first time the ITB has ever been cancelled—and it is indicative of the challenges which the coronavirus poses for the travel sector. Berlin and its hosts regret the cancellation, but understand the necessity even though as yet there have been no COVID-19 cases confirmed in Berlin. We are hopeful the situation will improve as soon as possible.”

IMEX Frankfurt Monitoring Coronavirus Status

Another major travel trade convention held annually in Germany, IMEX Frankfurt, is actively monitoring the coronavirus situation in regard to the status of its May 12-14 exhibition in Frankfurt.

IMEX Group released the following statement:

“We remain in daily contact with our partners around the world and in Europe. We’re also in regular communication with our partners in Germany (the German Convention Bureau, Messe Frankfurt and the Frankfurt Tourist Office), as well as the appropriate authorities, including travel and health advisory bodies nationally and globally.

“As this situation is changing daily, we remain watchful but also focused on delivering a very important event for the global meetings and events industry—IMEX in Frankfurt.

“Mindful of our duty of care we are carefully considering and consulting with experts on what the appropriate sanitary, health and other measures should be and can assure our industry that all appropriate measures will be in place at the show.

“We will continue to update this webpage as the situation evolves and look forward to welcoming the industry to IMEX in May.”

Other Major Corona Virus-related Convention Cancellations

The cancellation comes in the wake of a number of other major convention cancellations, mostly in the Asia-Pacific region, including the International Medical Device Regulators Forum and the International Trademark Association, both of which were scheduled to take place in Singapore.

The world’s largest gathering for the mobile technology industry, Mobile World Congress, also cancelled its Barcelona conference. In the U.S., Facebook recently announced the cancellation of its F8 Conference in San Francisco.

Read next: How to Leverage Travel Risk Management to Develop a Meetings and Events Plan

[Editor’s note: Shortly after the publication of this article, IMEX Group announced it was continuing with its IMEX Frankfurt program.]

IMEX Group leaders Carina Bauer and Ray Bloom issued the following statement:

“With IMEX due to take place in the middle of May (still 10 weeks away), the IMEX team continues to plan confidently for the show. We currently have NO plans to postpone or cancel.

“We’re very grateful for the ongoing support of our exhibitors and attendees who continue to register and plan for the show and we’ve not experienced any substantial impacts so far.

“The IMEX team remains in close contact with our partners in Germany, as well as the relevant health authorities. As this unprecedented situation is changing every day, we remain watchful but also focused on delivering what is an extremely important event for the global business events community.

“Please keep checking this webpage, which we suggest you bookmark. We’ll be updating it regularly as the situation evolves and making sure it contains links to the most reliable and relevant industry resources.”

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About the author
Tyler Davidson | Editor, Vice President & Chief Content Director

Tyler Davidson has covered the travel trade for nearly 30 years. In his current role with Meetings Today, Tyler leads the editorial team on its mission to provide the best meetings content in the industry.