A China booth at the ITB without Chinese?
After Beijing banned its citizens from vacation packages abroad, no more delegations are allowed to leave the country. This has massive consequences for China’s presence at the world’s largest tourism fair in Berlin.
Status: 10:36 a.m. | Reading time: 3 minutes
es is a novelty in the history of the International Tourism Exchange (ITB): the People’s Republic of China will most likely not send any representatives to the ITB in Berlin in early March. Because the travel bans imposed by Beijing at the end of January now also apply to state delegations. And even individual travelers can only leave China if they already have their visas for Germany in their pockets.
The reason for this is that the offices in China responsible for departure are closed until at least February 16; an extension of the closing time beyond this date is very likely given the increasing number of infections. But even if the visa issuing offices were opened, the remaining time until the start of the fair on March 4 would no longer be enough to enable Chinese officials to travel to Berlin.
This is not due to the German side – the Federal Foreign Office continues to waive travel restrictions for Chinese citizens – but rather to the Chinese bureaucracy. The exit procedure for delegation travelers in China takes an average of four weeks.
German tour operators at the ITB booth in China
Against this background, the China stand in Hall 26 will be significantly smaller this year. The ITB press office has so far only confirmed two cancellations by Chinese exhibitors and assumes that the remaining 50 registrations from China (including 20 from the mainland, 28 from Hong Kong and two from Macau) will continue to exist.
But according to WELT information, only photos are shown on a large part of the 400 square meters of exhibition space. A German tour operator, who does not want to be named, said that “with 99 percent certainty no mainland Chinese will come to Berlin”. According to him, German tour operators with China in their portfolio should fill some of the gaps at the Chinese country stand.
Taiwan, whose international legal position as a country independent of China is still controversial, has its own booth (26.a / 121) at the ITB – and continues to participate in Berlin. According to the authorities there, 18 Chinese people in Taiwan have been infected with the 2019 Coronavirus nCoV, and more than 44,000 people have already contracted the People’s Republic of China.
ITB spokeswoman Julia Sonnemann confirmed that the trade fair management takes the dangers posed by the corona virus for ITB visitors very seriously. It was therefore decided to increase the number of disinfection points, to clean the washrooms and toilets more frequently, and to employ more English-speaking medical personnel. Medical tests at the entrances are not planned, however; Such tough measures would only take place if the Berlin Senate as a partner of the fair recommended it.
The International Tourism Exchange Berlin takes place this year from March 4th to 8th in the exhibition halls at the Berlin radio tower. Last year, the ITB counted around 160,000 visitors, including 113,500 trade visitors, from 181 countries. It is the largest tourism fair worldwide.