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More European or Mediterranean? Debate at the meeting of the Italian ICCA members

Martedì 8 Settembre 2015

More European or Mediterranean? This question sums up the debate at the meeting of the Italian ICCA members, the international network of almost 1000 destinations, congress centres and professionals in the five continents, specialized in international congresses, that was held on Monday 7 September in Padua.
Following the thread of the title (Global pulls local or local attracts global?) participants were able to listen to – and discuss with – 5 speakers who put forward their varying points of view, and relative solutions to attract international congresses to Italy.
By videoconference from Amsterdam, Marco van Itterzon, Director Research ICCA, presented the new research tools that ICCA offers its members: the famous ICCA database that has just been revamped, that integrates data collected by the association and public data as big data.
The topic of the relationship between Europe and the Mediterranean was explained by an external speaker, professor Wael Farouq from Egypt, teacher of Arab language and literature at the American University in Cairo. He explained that, from a cultural and linguistic point of view, Egypt (and north Africa generally) is closer to south European countries, like Italy, than to other Arab countries like those in the Gulf. He described above all, quoting the Meeting Cairo experience, an event that was held in two editions, starting in 2010, where Christians and Muslims cooperated in organizing the event and, as a result, their national relations have improved visibly over the last five years. “The meeting is founded on similarity and diversity” Farouq summed up.
Milan has leapt into Europe: this could be the synthesis of the speech by Matteo Trezzi, from Mi.Co. in Milan, one of the twelve largest congress centres in Europe. “Even though we have no institutional relations with Expo, we have realized that this event could be very appealing for international organisers to choose Milan as a site for their congresses”. In fact, the investments that have been made to made to teach people about the city by inviting them to visit are giving the hoped for results.
“What is our Expo?” Enrico Belli, Chairman of the ICCA Italian committee, asked the audience. “Each land has its hidden resources: companies that export around the world, wine and food, the landscape, the research institutes. With our specially created ICCA integration tool, we can compare our data with the big data provided by ICCA and thus obtain a clear vision about our real potential. This enables pinpointed investments”.
Regarding the question of marketing expenses, there was widespread disappointment from the members with traditional marketing tools, like publications and trade fairs, not by change right when the announcement was made that BTC had been cancelled, the congress tourism trade fair.
“We must start with new initiatives” Riccardo Ruggiero, Padua Congress Centre Manager, concluded. “This is why, together with Convention Bureau Italia, we have launched a new project, a calendar with all the international events we host in Italy. It could become a valid business card to promote our activities abroad”.


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