Costa tourism suffers blow as ITB fair is cancelled over virus fears

The Andalucía stand at a previous year's ITB.
The Andalucía stand at a previous year's ITB. / SALVADOR SALAS
  • Andalucía and Malaga city were set to have stands at the annual fair in Germany, one of Europe's key tourism markets

The cancellation of the annual ITB travel fair, due to have started in Berlin on Wednesday, has come as a blow to the tourism industry across Andalucía.

The German federal ministries of Health and Economy decided to call the event off last Friday, just five days before it was due to start, over coronavirus fears, with more than 150,000 people from 186 countries set to attend.

This came as "bad news" to Juan Marín, the Andalucía regional government vice-president. Andalucía was set to have its own stand once more, some 500 square metres, while Malaga city's stand was 21 square metres.

Marín, while showing his respect for the German government's decision, said that the Junta would "continue working on other supplementary campaigns" to ensure that the region is still being promoted in Germany, a key target market for tourism.

This year, the Turismo Costa del Sol tourist board will spend 400,000 euros on the German market, marketing and promotional campaigns targeting online audiences.

"In 2019 the Costa del Sol had its best ever year with regard to German visitors," said the board's president and Diputación president, Francisco Salado.

In order to avoid a long-lasting slowdown, Salado insisted it was important to listen to the authorities and not to take notice of "fake news and exaggerations".

Despite several cancellations since the outbreak of the coronavirus, president of Foro Costa del Sol, Luis Callejón has appealed for "calm and sensitivity", pointing out that hotel occupancy over the long weekend was still 72 per cent.