The Government of Catalonia, through the Catalonia Convention Bureau, organised the first Meetings Industry Catalan Forum, which was held at the Design Hub Barcelona. More than 500 professionals of the meetings and incentives industry sector in Catalonia attended the event.
The Meetings Industry Catalan Forum gathered for the first time all Catalan industry linked to business event activities in order to discuss the current situation of this sector in Catalonia and the possible strategies to strengthen its development. The fact that over 500 people registered for it shows the need to organise forums like this one and it should mark the beginning of a series of activities to promote and increase business tourism in Catalonia.
In 2013, Catalonia received 1.6 million foreign tourists travelling for work related purposes, such as meetings, fairs, conferences or incentives trips (including individual business meetings). This figure shows an increase of 15.7% over the year 2012. These tourists generated revenue of 1,800 million euros, which represents an increase of 27% compared to 2012. It is worth mentioning that the increase in revenue is higher than the increase on the number of tourists, which shows that meetings, incentives and events tourism is a line of action aiming for quality tourism.
Among other features, business event industry helps to internationalise and locate Catalonia on the map, it becomes a sector marketing tool, it helps to lengthen the tourist season and to attract tourists with a high purchasing power, it professionalises and it is one of the tourism activities with a greater impact on other economic sectors.
The Meetings Industry Catalan Forum has been structured in three basic axes:
- Knowledge of the territory and product development in order to define the differential and unique values of Catalonia as a destination ready to welcome business tourism.
- Training for the participants on selling techniques, ICT technologies and new trends.
- Creation of synergies that offers participants a meeting point to establish relationships and identify new business opportunities.
- The program of the Forum included international speakers such as Patrick Delaney, founder of Ovation and former president of SITE (Society of Incentive and Travel Executives), Guy Bigwood, from MCI Group – a globally integrated Association, Communication, Congress and Event Management Company – and - Itamar Rogovsky, CEO of the Institute for Organizational Development. The program also included workshops and presentations to create synergies and business opportunities among attendees.
A fully consolidated sector
The Catalan Tourist Board, through the Catalonia Convention Bureau, focuses its promotional strategy for this market segment in the UK, Germany, France and Russia (as an emerging market), but it will also focus on the Nordic countries, the U.S. and Southeast Asia as potential markets in the coming years.
Catalonia has a wide infrastructure to accommodate meetings and incentive trips. The Catalonia Convention Bureau has defined a network of nine destinations perfectly equipped to host any kind of congresses & events, thanks to its large hotel capacity, a local convention bureau, first class facilities and a lot of organisational experience. These destinations are Barcelona, Sitges, Castelldefels, Girona, Lloret de Mar, Tarragona, Reus, PortAventura and Lleida. It has also identified over 150 activities for incentive trips.
Catalonia and Barcelona have become international benchmarks in meetings, incentives and events tourism. Furthermore, Barcelona has positioned itself as the European city hosting some of the most important fairs in the world, such as the Mobile World Congress, to be held from the 24th to the 27th of February, the EIBTM, the leading worldwide meetings, incentives and events tourism fair, to be held from the 18th to the 20th of November and that will be hold in the Catalan capital at least until 2016, and the Seatrade Med, the leading cruise industry exhibition in the Mediterranean, that will be held in Barcelona from the 16th to the 18th of September.