ITB Berlin managers blasted for dithering over virus response

Organisers of the ITB Berlin – the world’s largest tourism trade fair – are facing a barrage of online criticism over dithering about holding the event next week, due to fears from the coronavirus.

Clients, the press and public –many due to fly from all corners of the globe – remain in the dark if the show is still happening, although many companies have reportedly cancelled participation.

To make matters worse, organisers said there would be no announcement on the issue until late Friday, when business in Europe and Asia would have closed for the weekend.

“Messe Berlin is currently coordinating with the public authorities at federal & state level on how to proceed regarding ITB Berlin 2020 & COVID-19,” organisers posted on Twitter Friday. “It is expected that more information will be available tonight at the earliest. We’ll inform you as soon as we have new info.”

The event is slated to open next week in Berlin’s Messe, a complex of huge exhibition halls in the West of the city.

The slow response for organisers led to a biting criticism on Twitter from participants and the public.

“Dear ITB Berlin team, may I suggest that IF you’re deciding to cancel or not, that that message should be communicated TODAY AT THE LATEST. A clear message is needed. Then stand by it,” one comment read.

Whilst another tweet complained ‘Most of us will be flying out tomorrow or Sunday. Why are we not even considering that? Plus the time difference? Your feb 28 night is already the next day for us here on the other side of the world!’

Companies scheduled to be represented at the fair include hotels, tourist boards, tour operators, system providers, airlines and car rental companies.

Meanwhile, eight more people were found infected with COVID-19 on Wednesday across three German states, in addition to the two diagnosed cases on Tuesday, authorities have confirmed.

The caseload includes one in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, three in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg and four in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.