THIS year’s world’s largest trade fair, the International Tourism Bourse (ITB) Berlin which was scheduled to take place this month has been cancelled because of the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.
Zimbabwe was preparing to join other nations for the tourism trade fair.
The organisers of the fair released a statement saying due to the increasing spread of Covid-19, the German Federal ministry of Health and the Federal ministry of Economics have decided to cancel ITB Berlin.
“The responsible health authority of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf of Berlin had increased health check requirements for the event. Among other things, the authority had ordered every trade fair participant to prove to Messe Berlin that they had not been to the defined risk areas or have had contact with a person from the risk areas.
Messe Berlin confirmed that it would be unable to implement all the requirements,’’ read the statement.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) acting chief executive Givemore Chidzidzi said it was unfortunate as Zimbabwe’s tourism sector was ready and looking forward to attending the 2020 edition of ITB.
“It’s very unfortunate that cancellation has become the only option in the face of this epidemic. Our prayers and thoughts go to those affected by Covid 19 and we also pray that the epidemic comes to an end,” Chidzidzi told the Daily News.
Messe Berlin had been pointing out for weeks that the decision to hold or cancel major events could only be made on the basis of the recommendation or instruction of the relevant authorities as they have all the necessary information and expertise to draw the right conclusions.
“With more than 10 000 exhibitors from over 180 countries, ITB Berlin is of outstanding importance for the global tourism industry. 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,” Christian Göke, the Chief executive of Messe Berlin GmbH said in a statement.
Zimbabwe had assembled a strong delegation which was to be led by the minister of Tourism, Mangaliso Ndhlovu, comprising the ZTA and key Zimbabwean tourism operators. The thrust was to continue re-engagement with the international tourism players.
“ZTA and the entire tourism industry have been making preparations to be part of this year’s event. We had a record 30 operators who had booked exhibition space on the Zimbabwe stand ready to take on the international travel industry. The response from our local industry had been overwhelming and indeed encouraging,” said Chidzidzi.
Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Messe Berlin Wolf-Dieter Wolf said in their now 54-year history ITB Berlin and Messe Berlin have never experienced a comparable situation.
“We would like to thank all exhibitors and partners around the world who have supported ITB Berlin in the past days and weeks, and look forward to continuing our trusting cooperation with our partners in the market,” said Wolf in a statement.