ITB Berlin, one of the world’s largest annual travel trade shows, has launched a virtual online version after coronavirus forced its cancellation.

More than 130,000 delegates had been due to travel to Berlin for the event but it was called off on February 28 as the infection was spreading. It was originally scheduled for March 4-8.

Now ITB has launched the ITB Virtual Convention on its website, running from today (March 5) to March 11, with more than 20 live streams and videos on demand.

It said the website “spans a bridge between real-life meetings and digital networking, and features innovative tools for business, networking and exclusive content”.

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Dr Martin Buck, travel and logistics senior vice-president at show organiser Messe Berlin, said: “In these very difficult times the tourism industry needs ITB more than ever.

“That is why, at the forward-looking events of the ITB Virtual Convention, leading speakers from ITB will be discussing how the world’s travel industry can harness intelligent strategies to make sure it remains future-proof even in a challenging environment.

“In the wake of the latest developments, discussions on how the industry can deal with the coronavirus will play a key role.

“Between March 5 and 11, viewers can follow more than 20 exclusive live streams and videos in English and German, some in real time, some time-shifted, on Afterwards, they will be made available as videos on demand.

“By launching this new website, we are establishing a key platform and travel network which has no parallel and which can be made use of in every market around the world.”

All registered attendees at ITB Berlin 2020 may also access the ‘Travel Network’ and those who had not previously planned to visit the show in Berlin can register too.

Travel Network users can set up a profile, match interests, be contacted and can network. They can follow other users, exchange contact details, chat and set up appointments.

Virtual rooms are being made available online where users can hold meetings which they had scheduled ahead of ITB Berlin 2020.

A video link enables face-to-face meetings and it is also possible to communicate via an audio link.