ITB Berlin is canceled again: What is next for tourism?

ITB Berlin 2021 is canceled. This is the second ITB not taking place. This is setting shockwaves for the global travel and tourism industry.


It could also mean the end for hotels, for taxi drivers, for attractions, for event organizers and stand builders in Berlin. It could mean the end for tourism boards from around the globe. It sends a grim outlook for new normal in the travel and tourism industry, even though ITB 2021 will have a virtual platform, like many others.


ITB Berlin 2020 was the event where COVID-19 all began.

eTurboNews was the first publication in the world predicting the cancellation of ITB Berlin already on February 24, 2020


Prior to this on February 11, eTN already raised the question.


ITB had denied a cancellation and criticized this publication for its prediction until February 28 when the cancellation was officially announced just a week before this giant event costing exhibitors millions in unused stand fees, travel expenses, and lost revenue.


Now on October 28 ITB caught up with the sad reality, that COVID-19 has been taking over the world and cancelled 2021 in plenty of time in advance.


With this announcement the ITB and the world of tourism had another wake up call today, that COVID-19 is setting a new reality for our industry. As most other trade events ITB will have a virtual version, but it means another huge loss for the meeting industry, hotels, attractions transportation, event designers and so many other stakeholders relying on a giant event like ITB to pay their bills


ITB made announced today, that next year the World’s Leading Travel Trade Show® will take place as an entirely virtual event. This decision was taken by Messe Berlin after weighing all the circumstances. ITB Berlin 2021 and the accompanying ITB Berlin Convention will be open to trade visitors only. The trade visitor days will take place from 9 to 12 March 2021, adding an extra day to the event.


”The situation surrounding the pandemic remains difficult, particularly for the travel and tourism industry. Our decision to hold ITB Berlin 2021 as an entirely virtual event now provides exhibitors and trade visitors with maximum planning certainty,“ said David Ruetz, Head of ITB Berlin, explaining the move. ”We have developed an alternative concept with which we as the World’s Leading Travel Trade Show® can again offer our partners and customers a reliable platform for global networking, business and content. The event will be highly relevant in terms of content. In these challenging times business meetings, exchanging specialist information and orientation are of special value for the industry.”


ITB Berlin’s recent experience with virtual formats has been positive. With its launch of itb.com in March of this year the team had already established a global virtual platform for the tourism industry. Next to daily news it features podcasts, networking opportunities and monthly Virtual Convention sessions. In mid-October, ITB Berlin and the Berlin Travel Festival as well as ITB Asia in Singapore successfully held virtual tourism events. Numerous leading industry speakers, some of them in person, others live-streamed from remote locations, took part in discussions and exchanged information on a variety of topics ranging from marketing and sales to CSR.