Barcelona has come a long way since the 1992 Olympic games, which marked the beginning of a huge reinvention for Spain’s second city. The Catalan capital, which once had its back turned to the sea, has since become Europe’s Number One lifestyle destination, offering a quality of life arguably unrivalled elsewhere.
As well as its evident lifestyle benefits, Barcelona has become an increasingly popular FinTech and start-up hub as well as a highly respected Smart City, leading the way in urban technological innovation. Latterly, Barcelona has also become the destination of choice for international meets and congresses. Europe’s Convention Bureau, which promotes Barcelona as a leading venue for meetings, has already posted 120 planned congresses on its website for 2019. Among the most significant are the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO), which will be held in Barcelona for the first time and is expected to attract at least 30,000 participants, the Diabetes European Congress, with up to 15,000 delegates, and the Urology European Congress, with more than 13,000 attendees. Among non-medical reunions is the International Textile and Textile Machinery Exhibition (ITMA), which together with the Mobile World Congress are the largest events of this kind in Barcelona. Last year the newly rebranded MWC Barcelona attracted 110,000 participants, bringing a huge economic boost to the city.
In 2017, Barcelona topped the worldwide ranking for International Association Meetings with 195 congresses and 2,134 meetings. The cities in last year’s top 5 remained the same as they have done since 2015, but Barcelona surpassed the regular first and second placed holders, Paris and Vienna, to claim the number one spot. Berlin and London were in fourth and fifth place. Madrid stayed in seventh place for another year. Spain was fourth in the country list behind the USA, Germany and the UK.
Last year, Cisco, VM Ware, SAP, Atlassian, the World Ophthalmological Congress (WOC), the European Federation of National Associations of Orthopaedics and Traumatology (EFORT), the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) and the Society for Extracellular Vesicles (ISEV) all held major congresses in the Catalan capital. Barcelona also held IBTM World http://www.ibtmworld.com/, the world’s main professional meet on congresses and fairs, which brought together more than 3,000 event planners from 150 countries. The same event is planned for November of this year.
“The vast experience obtained from the Olympics in 1992, as well its powerful brand, have transformed Barcelona into a go-to destination when it comes to International Summits,” comments Francisco Nathurmal, CEO of Bcn Advisors.
“These congresses showcase Barcelona in the best possible way and further strengthen its international profile, attracting major investment, tourism and thousands of professionals and experts in their respective fields. As Barcelona’s brand grows from strength to strength, the city will no doubt continue to benefit both economically and turistically for many years to come.”
Barcelona has also reportedly already agreed on important congresses that will be held in the city for the first time in 2021, 2023 and 2025 and it has also been announced that the world’s most important congress of the audiovisual sector – Integrated Systems Europe – will be held in Barcelona from 2021 onwards.