Zimbabwe will, like many other countries, not participate at the world’s largest travel show, International Tourism Bourse (ITB) Berlin, which was scheduled for 04 – 08 March 2020, as the show has been cancelled.
According to a statement issued by the organisers of the fair, due to the increasing spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, the German Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Economics have decided to cancel International Tourism Bourse (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.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority Acting Chief Executive Givemore Chidzidzi said the 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” said Chidzidzi.
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. Only these authorities have all the necessary information and expertise to draw the right conclusions.
Dr. Christian Göke, CEO of Messe Berlin GmbH, said: “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”.
Zimbabwe had assembled a strong delegation which was to be led by the Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Honorable Nqobizitha Ndhlovu, comprising the ZTA and tourism operators. The thrust was to continue with the reengagement with the international tourism players.
“ZTA and the entire tourism industry has 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.
The Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Messe Berlin Wolf-Dieter Wolf explained: “In their now 54-year history ITB Berlin and Messe Berlin have never before 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”.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority would like to thank all stakeholders and partners in the local tourism sector for their relentless efforts to promote our beautiful destination. Information on any developments regarding ITB and other forthcoming major tourism events will be shared.