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World’s largest travel fair, ITB, cancelled in Berlin

Tanutam Thawan

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Organisers of the world’s biggest travel expo, the ITB travel trade fair in Berlin, have cancelled the event over coronavirus fears. 160,000 visitors were expected to attend this year’s event.

“We take our responsibility for the security and the health of our guests, exhibitors and employees very seriously. It is with a heavy heart that we have to look at the necessary cancellation of the ITB Berlin 2020.”

The travel fair was due to open next Wednesday but concerns grew after Germany recorded a jump in the number of infected residents this week. Of the 10,000 exhibitors expected at ITB from all over the world, 22 would have come from China and 25 others from Hong Kong and Taiwan.

With confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in Europe’s biggest economy rising above 60, more than 1,000 people remain in quarantine. Schools and kindergartens were also shut in the district until Monday as the number of cases linked to the cluster reached 20.

With cases now detected across several further German states including Hesse, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, Health Minister Jens Spahn said this week that Europe’s biggest country was “at the beginning of a coronavirus epidemic”.

The German governments ordering local authorities in the country’s 16 states to update their pandemic readiness plans. From Thursday authorities in German are also requiring travellers arriving from China, South Korea, Japan, Iran and Italy to provide contact details in case their movements had to be traced over possible infections.

The organisers of the fair, scheduled to start on March 4 for four days, originally expected about 160,000 visitors. Just a few days before the cancellation, the venue Messe Berlin and the organisers of the ITB had expressed their confidence that the fair would take place as planned. But over the last week requirements for exhibitors were tightened.

A delegation from the TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand), plus a number of representatives from properties and tour organisers in Thailand, were scheduled to attend and exhibit at this years ITB.

Meanwhile, the ITB in China, the fastest growing regional travel trade fair, planned for May, has already been cancelled by the organisers last week.

 

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