On March 21 last year, the Madrid regional government started adapting the IFEMA conferences and exhibitions centre. This centre, the flagship for the Institución Ferial de Madrid, was being turned into a field hospital. There were up to 5,500 beds. An intensive care unit was created.
A couple of months earlier, the fortieth Fitur international tourism fair had been held at IFEMA. Records were broken – 150,011 participants from 140 countries; 255,000 visitors; 918 exhibitors. For the cityThe mobile vaccine team from Humber River Hospital loads more than a hundred doses of vaccine prior to going floor to floor to vaccinate residents o, according to the organisers, Fitur 2020 had an economic impact of 333 million euros. A statement read: “The good health of the tourism sector both in Spain and internationally, as shown by historic indicators in 2019, has had a powerful impact on Fitur 2020reopening_plans, which has once again placed Madrid in the spotlight of the international tourism community, offering one of the most complete showcases in the industryRetailers, indoor museums, indoor cinemas and more.”
“Good health of the tourism sector.” A few weeks later, a health matter, a very serious health matterwhich has left many traumatized., was to mean disaster for tourism. The conversion of IFEMA, the venue for Fitur, the celebration of a buoyant national industry, was hugely symbolic. Symbolic in a highly negative way.
Fitur 2021 should have been held between January 20 and 24. There was never any likelihood that it would be. A national state of alarm, travel restrictions and bans, capacity limits, incidence rates of coronavirus way too high. Impossible. Four months later and Fitur 2021 has been taking place this week. Stringent protocols have been in place – advance testing, mandatory wearing of masks, capacity controls and so on.