Event Point International 13

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OWNER Estação Livre, Comunicação Porto | Portugal Phone: +351 221 113 202 | info@ eventpointinternational.com www.eventpointinternational.com DIRECTOR Rui Ochôa [rui@eventpointinternational.com] EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Cláudia Coutinho de Sousa [claudia@ eventpointinternational.com] NEWSROOM Cláudia Coutinho de Sousa Maria João Leite [mj@eventpointinternational.com] Alexandra Noronha [alexandra@ eventpointinternational.com] INTERNATIONAL MICE CORRESPONDENTS Ramy Salameh, Rose de Almeida TRANSLATION Diana Reis Marques [diana@eventpointinternational.com] DIRECTOR OF SALES Filipe Silva [info@eventpointinternational.com] ASSISTANT Rita Costa COOPERATING WITH THIS EDITION Aloysius Arlando, Cristina Ávila, Paula Ferreira de Almeida, Ramy Salameh,Rose de Almeida DESIGN Norma Design [info@normadesign.com] COVER PHOTO José Mendes PHOTOS Minifoto PRINTING Norprint ‑ a casa do livro Zona Industrial Alto da Cruz ‑ Rua das Artes Gráficas, nº 209 4780‑739 Santo Tirso | Portugal

Cláudia Coutinho de Sousa

Rui Ochôa

INSPIRATION Some people run away from number 13, others consider it a lucky number. This is the 13th time we publish our International edition. And we have decided that it would be the perfect timing for a change. We hope you enjoy the new design of the magazine, inspired by the Blau Reuter school, that in essence says that less is more. The credits go all to our grumpy artist Marco Ferreira. In this edition, we include the reports of our new International MICE Correspondents: Ramy Salameh and Rose de Almeida. Award-winning journalists, they bring a new energy to our project. They are sharing with you the things that inspired them in destinations like Bahrain or Ceará and Gramado (Brazil). Inspired by the passion we saw in Marta Gomes, during the last ICCA’s Iberian Chapter Meeting, we decided that she was the perfect person to interview for his edition. But there is much more to read, like the articles by Aloysius Arlando (AIPC), Cristina Ávila (Turismo dos Açores) and Paula Ferreira de Almeida (Factor Chave), the venues that Porto has to offer, or the challenges of large format screens. Hope we can inspire you with our stories and ideas.

See you soon!

LEGAL DEPOSIT NUMBER 358113/13 CIRCULATING 1.500 copies FREQUENCY Biannual It is strictly forbidden to partially or completely reproduce texts or illustrations by Event Point. Information in the ads are the sole responsability of the advertisers. Consequently, we can not be held responsible for any incorrect information shown.


04 Standards matter – but so does uniqueness!, by Aloysius Arlando 06 Companies 08 INTERVIEW: MARTA GOMES, ICCA’S VICE-PRESIDENT 12 Associative events: more boring or sexier?, by Paula Ferreira de Almeida 14 Porto Cruise Terminal: a unique event venue 16 “VOLUNTOURISM” IS DONATING TIME TO PLANET EARTH 18 Heritage is ‘home’ at Palácio Belmonte 22 Large format projections: the challenge of content 24 The Azores and the tourism revolution, by Cristina Ávila 26 What are the event trends for 2019?, by Rose de Almeida 28 Destinations: Porto and North 30 DESTINATIONS: TWO OF THE BEST HIKES IN EUROPE 32 Destinations: Ceará 36 Destinations: Gramado and Canela 38 Destinations: Bahrain 42 Companies index




STANDARDS MATTER – BUT SO DOES UNIQUENESS! Convention centres today are increasingly facing a uniquely challenging – and somewhat contradictory - set of demands.

On the one hand, they are expected to deliver their products and services consistently and to generally accepted industry standards, particularly for events that rotate on a regional or global basis and which therefore need to be sure their expectations will be met in a range of different locations. On the other, they need to be able to demonstrate features and qualities that reflect and support the kind of unique delegate experience that is an increasingly important part of today’s events. How to manage this balance is a major consideration in the way in which AIPC structures its programming for members in more than 65 countries around the world – and it happens in three key ways; First and foremost is a recognition that while centres operate in an almost infinite variety of conditions and circumstances, they all have many of the same issues to address. This means that the collective experience and expertise of more than 185 centres worldwide can be brought to bear on common concerns - but the key is to recognise the importance of adapting these to local conditions and traditions in order to ensure that the unique flavour of a destination is not overwhelmed by standardised solutions. By optimising the opportunities for members to compare and contrast their practices and experiences in a collegial environment, each can take what is most useful from the collective discussions and apply them to their own needs in ways that will still maintain their uniqueness. Secondly, AIPC offers a wide range of adaptable tools and standards that do not so much prescribe what particular centres should do but rather how to approach specific challenges in order to deliver on client needs and expectations. These tools are developed in ongoing consultation with key client groups whose perspectives are incorporated into professional development activities such as conferences and workshops to make sure it is in fact the

clients themselves who are clarifying where consistency is most important rather than trying to interpret this from other sources. Third, AIPC’s most important forms of recognition – in particular the AIPC Apex Award for Best Client-rated Centre – are entirely based on evaluations by centre clients, including how well competing centres are managing the balance between operation standards and consistency and those often-elusive qualities that determine how well a convention facility and destination are able to deliver a distinctive and compelling local experience for delegates. This approach again emphasises the overarching importance of delivering to the satisfaction of customers rather than just to a set of general standards that may not pay sufficient attention the “wow factor” that so many organisers are seeking today in order to satisfy their delegates and attract attendance. With so much traditional content delivered through other vehicles, today’s meetings and events are increasingly focused on the quality of the interactions and experiences delegates achieve rather than just the information that is conveyed. As a result, convention centres and destinations must work even harder to contribute to that experience. By managing a good balance between good standards where these are needed to ensure operational success and helping clients access what makes their destination unique, AIPC members are able to support the kind of products that ensure successful outcomes for everyone.

Aloysius Arlando AIPC [International Association of Convention Centres] President



A NEW LEVEL OF EXCITEMENT FOR YOUR EVENT Benfica Events, more than organising corporate events, creates differentiating experiences in a unique environment.

Our customers play at home. There is total flexibility to transform a brand event into something unique, perfectly adapted to each one’s needs, concepts and aspirations. Our Stadium offers both engagement and grandeur. New stages of feeling different experiences. The closed indoor event concept is extended to the size the stadium, bench and pitch dimensions. Being in a sports environment generates emotions impossible to feel in other venues. Nobody is indifferent to the sports phenomena, the passions they create, the memories that last. All of this can be channelled to events, adding value. We bring your brand’s identity into our Stadium, making it yours! You can have a video of your company on megascreens, your logo at the centre of the pitch, impressive light effects, and the vibrant sound of our Stadium. To this we can add our speaker’s voice to further enhance this emotion. We offer different tactical strategies for any event type: from

a simple meeting, to a training session, team building actions, product launches, Christmas or Gala dinners, congresses or seminars. All with a highly professional approach and dedication, sowing experiences and making dreams come true.

We want your company to be the Man of the Match at our stadium.

BENFICA Lisboa | Portugal | +351 217 219 500 | benficaeventos@slbenfica.pt www.slbenfica.pt/events




MARTA GOMES: BUSINESS EVENTS ARE UNDERGOING A PROFOUND TRANSFORMATION She was born in Porto, but lives in Paris where she holds the position of International Sales Director at Viparis, that manages several venues in the French capital. She is currently ICCA’s vice president and has shared with Event Point International both the association and the sector’s challenges.

Can you describe your career path up until Viparis International Sales Director? What were the most striking and decisive moments? I’ve been bilingual since the age of 3, having spent all my school years at the Oporto British School and then the International school of Lisbon. I studied for a Masters degree in English and History at the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland and worked for a while in London after graduation. I’ve always wanted a job with international connections and started out wanting to be a diplomat. My French was not so great at the time so I found an internship in Paris at ICEP (the Portuguese foreign investment board) and discovered the MICE industry by organising the Portuguese Pavilions at textile exhibitions. I have worked in international venue sales since then, my first job was junior international sales manager, and I’ve gradually taken over more responsibilities and a growing team. I have found that working in events and promoting Paris is a bit like being the ambassador for the city! What attracts you the most in this events sector? What I most love about my job is meeting fascinating and passionate people, who are often the world leading experts in their field, great scientists, doctors, researchers and top-level executives, whose event of major importance, and who I get to work with closely in my day-to-day. A bid for an event is a team effort which can sometimes take years, and where there needs to be close collaboration with all the stakeholders to achieve the most successful result.

What are the main challenges venues face these days? Business events are undergoing a profound transformation. Attendees, exhibitors and sponsors expect more meaningful and personalised experiences and connections and demand more innovation and creativity in all aspects of the event experience, from content delivery, networking tools, general well-being and sustainability concerns. Our challenge as venues is to offer our clients the infrastructure and technical solutions to enable this innovation: highdensity wifi, networking areas with charging stations, a more varied, authentic and local food offer, greener transportation, less waste, better energy. These are all concerns that Viparis is working on for a better client experience. What are Paris’s strongest arguments for continuing to attract events? Paris is not just the Eiffel Tower. Most beautiful city, most romantic city, most fashionable, everyone has their special reason to love Paris. But Paris is also a dynamic business city, with over 800,000 companies, ranging from high tech sectors to traditional industrial activities. It is also a city of innovation, with a start-up ecosystem which is today one of the most active in the world. It is a city of science and healthcare, with more than 100,000 researchers, and representing Europe’s no. 1 region in terms of R&D expenditure. It is this unique contrast that makes Paris particularly attractive for business events: one of the most visited cities in the world, but at the same time a place where 12 million people live and work, with all the necessary infrastructure for large events: flight connections, hotel capacity, ease of transport within the city, and unforgettable venues for evening and side events.



What is your take on the French political situation and what impact does it have on your work? I’m proud of the French President and government, who have a strong vision to reform the country to make it future-ready: I like his pro-business attitude with campaigns like #ChooseFrance, his vision for Europe, and his proactive attitude towards environmental issues, and positioning France as a start-up nation. He just announce the results of le Grand Débat, by proposing measures to respond to some of the requests from the Yellow-Vest movement. International conferences in our venues have continued to attract a record attendance, so I don’t think the political situation has kept people from attending business events in our city. How important is it to be on the board of an association as important as ICCA? How did this come about? I’ve been an active member since I first participated in an ICCA congress in 2006. I was immediately drawn to this vibrant international community where knowledge exchange is open and friendly. Many social media posts related to ICCA are tagged with #ICCAFamily, which really reflects the spirit of the association. It is the only truly global association in the meetings industry, dedicated to shaping the future and value of international association meetings. I was soon interested in participating more in the life of the association, and giving something back to this amazing community where I learned so much. I started by becoming Chair of the France-Benelux Chapter from 2009-2015 and was elected to the Board in November 2015 in Malaysia. What are the association’s main challenges at this time? Our main objectives are to make ICCA stronger, more global and more sustainable in the long term. ICCA has grown a lot in the last few years, to more than 1,000 members worldwide, and opening regional offices in all continents. It’s now time to solidify the position of these regional offices, and offer more services to all members worldwide, and help integrate the younger generations in our membership. Our new CEO, Senthil Gopinath, who is a former regional director in the Middle East, has been hired to deliver on ICCA’s strategic goals, building on the talents of ICCA’s global team.

What reasons do you find for the scarce presence of Portuguese professionals in the leadership of international associations in the sector, such as ICCA? A lot of associations in our industry are US-based, with only a few which are really international. I can think of a few Portuguese leaders in our industry, like Ricardo Vieira, who just stepped down as Chairman of the ICCA Iberian Chapter, Mónica Freire, who is a member of the IAPCO Council, and Miguel Neves who is a Board member of MPI. I really couldn’t tell you why there are not more, but I can say that we could say the same for the French. What legacy do you expect to leave following this time in the association? I was inspired to run for the ICCA Board by Nina FreysenPretorious, our immediate Past President, our first woman president. I hope to encourage more ICCA members, more #ICCAWomen to stand for elections in our boards and chapters. I’m also very much involved in leading the working group to engage more with association executives, and I look forward to presenting the results at our next Congress in Houston. What do you miss the most from Portugal?

Living in Paris, what I most miss is the sea! And all that goes with it: fresh grilled fish, sardines, crabs, clams… I could go on forever!

Porto and North

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ASSOCIATIVE EVENTS: MORE BORING OR SEXIER? The professional congress organisation sector has been undergoing a swirl of changes for more than a decade.

At present, there is only one way to remain in this market successfully, and that is to know, monitor and anticipate market trends along with its regulatory restrictions, the latter being a FactorChave’s critical success factor, as it operates exclusively in the health sector. To succeed, an agency must be able to offer a turnkey service that includes financial and legal advice, be highly professional and have credentials to prove such positioning. The market is, in our perspective, currently driven by the growing and diversified needs of clients along with their ever-increasing demand, expecting that agencies anticipate contingency plans for all the details that make the backbone of a congress or event, this being a recognised fact in the current market. In the conference organisation market, events whose organisation belongs to medical societies and / or groups, known in the market as associative events, have a very significant weight. In our opinion, organising associative congresses is increasingly segmented, and we feel these two segments are increasingly moving away from each other! So, there is the group of ‘healthy’ events, increasingly challenging for us from the creativity and innovation point of view, based on the demand for each event to be different, to do more and better, to provide ‘new experiences’, to leave a mark on participants with unforgettable moments, with that essence that in FactorChave we like to call ‘living experiences’, and which are the practical application of ‘emotional intelligence’. Organising an associative congress with these characteristics is a double challenge for us,

because it is critical to understand the needs of each association so that during the event participants feel their expectations are met, that they live the congress as ‘the Centre’, where they see answered their individual and specific needs. We know we have reached this goal when we are told that their participation in the meeting was really helpful and will make a difference in their daily lives. Congresses or associative meetings that provide these moments, significant moments, fortuitous experiences that create memories with a memorable impact in time are the increasingly attractive associative events to organise and this fact makes them increasingly seductive and even ‘sexier’! This experience together with innovative design, the use of multimedia increasingly integrated in the congresses and events meeting design, the venue choice, exists for only one reason: just as we are all unique, different and with our own personality, events themselves also have their own unique objectives, audience, and goals, one being totally different from the other. Thus, everything will be designed to adapt to participants, how they will relate to each other, to content and to the event venue, based on a single basic and cross-cutting objective: to facilitate interaction taking into account the associations and congressmen peculiarities. Organisations that achieve this vision are doomed to success and to see their events grow and achieve a guaranteed return on investment. On the other hand, agencies are also called by the other association segment to develop a whole plan for holding a congress exactly the same as its previous editions, always with fewer resources, often with copy / paste content and location and whose sole purpose is to make possible a congress edition and one more year of existence of the association. These conferences classified by us as ‘more boring’ will continue to exist because they are often based on personal leadership of the associations, but tend to fail naturally with the natural changes of these leaderships.

Paula Ferreira de Almeida

FactorChave Commercial Director

VENUES    14


PORTO CRUISE TERMINAL: A UNIQUE EVENT VENUE From Architect Luís Pedro Silva’s inspiration came a building for history. The iconic and imposing Porto Cruise Terminal is making a steady walk in the events sector, aiming at quality and flexibility.

Since its opening in 2015, the Porto Cruise Terminal building has been surprising those who pass nearby. Located just 700 metres from the beach, more than a terminal, it is an architectural masterpiece. And also because of that, this is a place that started to attract event planners’ attention. The first event took place in December 2015. In 2018, the venue hosted 116 events, this not being its core business. The terminal is owned by APDL [Administração dos Portos do Douro, Leixões e Viana do Castelo], SA and its focus and priority is the reception of cruise ships, this activity subordinating everything else, namely availability. While events are a secondary activity, it is still perceived in a highly professional and serious way.

Non-exclusive Porto Cruise Terminal supplier policy is fairly flexible. There is no exclusivity in catering or audiovisuals, but there is a set of five or six preferred suppliers, in order to guarantee the quality that the building demands. The APDL team monitors the event, with an event manager and a technical manager. Safety and cleanliness are the venue’s responsibility. Main events include conferences, gala dinners and product launches. But there are others within the corporate universe, both from national and international clients. In addition, APDL has some of its own events, namely “Porto Day”, when the building is open to the city and where a series of activities are organised for families. Its 2018 edition received 27,000 people.

Award-winning building Porto Cruise Terminal has already won five awards. It was considered one of the three best cruise terminals worldwide by Seatrade Cruise; in 2015 it won Best Public Building by AZ Awards; the SIL2015 and the 2016 Building Award, in the Best Engineering Project category; and the Best Public Building at Building of the Years Awards, by ArchDaily, in 2017.

Numbers 350m long berth for cruise ships

15,000sqm in the main building

Areas This multifunctional building, in addition to all the operation related to cruises, hosts CIIMAR - Centro Interdisciplinar de Investigação Marinha e Ambiental, UP (Interdisciplinary Centre for Marine and Environmental Research) on its 2nd floor. The area allows diverse layouts because of the lack of strong colours - white predominates – so, agency imagination has no limits. Floor 0, where the main reception is located, may welcome guests with a cocktail drink, with capacity for 300 people. From here, an impressive spiral ramp leads to the roof. Floor 1 is the Boarding Room which, as the name indicates, operates the logistics of entry and exit of cruise passengers. With 1050 sqm, the venue hosts events such as seminars, congresses or presentations, up to 400 people in auditorium. Floor 3 is the quintessential area for hosting events. Versatile and flexible, it welcomes the most varied types of events, with the bonus of having a privileged view over the sea and the coast. On this floor there is also a small auditorium (70 people) and a mezzanine. In terms of capacity, the area welcomes 300 people in theatre, 350 in banquet and 400 in cocktail format. Its terrace is one of the most extraordinary areas in this building, with a breathtaking view of Leça da Palmeira, Matosinhos and Porto sea fronts, and an outdoor amphitheatre for outdoor events with a capacity for 400 people in cocktail. The building is equiped with a parking lot.

Parking space for 25 tour buses, 15 shuttle buses to the city centre

Marina for 170 boats

300sqm on Floor 0

1,050sqm area in the Boarding Room

648sqm on Floor 3

970sqm on Terrace 2





“VOLUNTOURISM” IS DONATING TIME TO PLANET EARTH “Voluntourism” is leaving a mark over the travel business, as globetrotters have an increasing conscience of the impact they might have all over the world. And nowhere is that impact more noticeable than in the environment. The Algarve is preparing some exciting opportunities in this field, with NGO’s and local entities promoting several projects.

There is much more that can be done to attract those visitors who wish to employ their time in a meaningful way. Local company Proactivetur is keeping an eye for these opportunities, according to João Ministro, executive director. Activities like reforestation in fire-stricken mountain areas, volunteering at a centre for wildlife preservation, support for protected area management and many others, could, in the near future, help the Algarve fight seasonality in tourism while contributing to a greener and more sustainable region. The latest numbers show that ecotourism and nature seeking travellers are increasing in Portugal. 40% of Germans, for example, want these types of experiences. The government is supporting sustainable travelling, with new funding for this field. And so, everything is in place for more companies to offer these experiences. Proactivetur is already engaging in this area with a cultural offer, including arts and crafts workshops, ancient rural site tours and activities in remote villages, at the heart of the Algarve.

Corporate responsible tourism can also be a plus in the Algarve. Companies will, soon, want to give their employees meaningful incentives and the environment and wildlife protection are the best way to do it.

HOTELS    18



© Ramy Salameh

© Ramy Salameh

HERITAGE IS ‘HOME’ AT PALÁCIO BELMONTE An unassuming, anonymous and heavy-set red door separates a quaint cobbled courtyard, from an intimately historic foyer, embracing an almost monastic-like silence. As the door closes behind you, Lisbon’s bright morning sunshine is replaced by softer tones; the sensory contrast is immediate and welcome. This is one of many such contrasts that guests of the exquisite ‘Palácio Belmonte’ will experience during their stay.

Opposite the entrance, two wooden sculpted figures hang from the wall, ushering guests towards an ancient flight of limestone steps, whose patina is characterised by pockmarks or dints. It represents the thousands of footsteps that have passed before, throughout a long and distinguished history, which served as residence for Pedro Álvares Cabral (explorer), Marques de Atalaia, Duke of Loulé and Count of Belmonte. The Palácio is a national monument and one of the world’s most captivating boutique hotels. It has the most exclusive address and location in the city, sitting next door to the entrance of the Sao Jorge castle in the Alfama neighbourhood, sharing the very same elevation, vistas and ancient walls. It integrates a Roman Tower (138 BC) and two Moorish Towers of the 8th Century, which eventually morphed into a residence in 1449, enlarged and completed in 1650 with final decorative touches concluding in 1725. Today, it is home to intimate suites and spaces filled with contemporary art, ancient artefacts, sculptures, period features, cherished books and furnishings. All owned and selected by Frederic Coustols, a Frenchman, who bought Palácio Belmonte in the early 1990s. He says “the Palácio is a Portuguese composite, a vernacular construction, which I tried to bring back to its origins, a house. It took me one year to listen, to knock on the walls, to understand. It has always been a home, with the same family just with different titles, for nearly 600 years”. With a deep love and knowledge of art, vernacular architecture and sustainability, he has restored this iconic and precious historical edifice into a sanctuary of heritage and luxury. From the entrance, the stone staircase leads up towards the ‘Piano Nobile’, containing the palatial ‘Maria Ursula’ ballroom, sitting next to the ‘Governors Room’, and surrounded by the more intimate ‘White & Red Libraries’, where Coustols is often found. The spaces have formed the nucleus of the ‘home’ for many hundreds of years, where family generations would have dined and entertained. The sense of ‘home and family’, sustainability and of course Art, are key components of the hotel’s uniqueness. Maybe most telling is Coustols continuing desire to maintain that residential DNA, as part of the overall conservation and preservation, whilst regularly injecting new pieces of art to the status quo. “Art work contributes to freedom and freedom is very important in this world, it is rare. The art collection in PB is very eclectic, it’s my own taste” Coustols adds. The works range from letters written and signed by the King and Queen, tapestry, sculpture made by a Czech artist and currently a holographic-like light installation that bounces rainbow colours across the courtyards white walls called ‘Spectral’. Beyond the ‘Piano Nobile’ guest spaces, eleven exceptional suites, make the most of the historic architectural lineage both inside

HOTELS    20


© Ramy Salameh

and out, leaving their mark upon the quirkiest of labyrinthine layouts. This is where heritage, exclusivity and design have all fused together to provide individuality that display the past so eloquently. The suites are named after a major figures from Portuguese history: Fernão Magalhães, Egas Moniz, Fernão Mendes Pinto, Gil Vicente, and Bartolomeu de Gusmão, amongst others. Each suite is so refreshingly different, that the only aspects which have some form of uniformity is the guarantee of elegance and a magnificent view across Lisbon. The ‘Ricardo Reis’ suite assimilates a spiralling medieval staircase, for patrons to reach their bedroom, which immerses them in 15th century frescoes upon the walls, above 18th century ‘azulejo’ tile panels by the Master Valentim de Almeida. They burst with colour once the old shuttered windows open and Lisbon’s renowned daylight illuminates both. In fact the distinctive blue and white Azulejo tiles, depicting music, art and life of the nobility in the 1700s, runs like a ribbon across the white-washed walls throughout the Palácio, a constant thread in the hotel and a symbol of the city and Portugal itself. There are around 3,700 tiles across the Belmonte. The Palácio’s promontory, sweeps across a panorama that spans east to west, from the ‘Vasco De Gama Bridge’ (Vasco da Gama was received at the Palácio upon his triumphant return from India), all the way around to the ‘Ponte 25 de Abril Bridge’. Every window, veranda and balcony, catching an aspect of Lisbon. One’s eye trying to connect both bridges, with the seemingly endless and irregular terracotta-tiled roofs across Alfama and São Vicente de Fora, with the distant river the constant contrast and backdrop. In 1723 Manuel dos Santos and Valetim de Almeida were commissioned to decorate the Palacio with fifty-nine original Azelujo panels, which took two years to complete, “and in celebration of this great work, there was a big party with the King and ministers invited” Coustols continues.

Coustols and his wife Maria, have weaved contemporary design throughout the Palácio, and maybe the ‘Amadeo de Souza Cardoso’ terrace suite reflects that most. A modern spiral stairway, supports a mezzanine platform with king size Japanese bed, to help fill the voluminous space. From this lofty perch, is an ideal spot to look down upon angular contemporary furniture, with a certain ‘Bauhaus’ look to it; the library and marble bathroom, join the collection of XVIII century ‘azulejo’ tile panels to provide the opulence. The garden terrace, is a haven of south European charm, another corner to look down towards the ebb and flow of Lisbon life. Under the dappled shade created by over-arching branches of pine trees, guests can sit and take in the changing colours and sounds emanating from Alfama’s cobbled streets, catching a glimpse of the yellow vintage trams scuttling up and down the hills in between tightly packed residences. The constant trickle of water, from the black marble infinity pool, another accompaniment to enjoy within the walled oasis, as is the chime of the church bells from Sé Cathedral. The ever-changing art work, alongside a regular flow of writers, artists and composers who stay at the Belmonte, keeps the spaces fresh and creatively inspiring. It maintains a constant link between old and new, framing the past with the future. Above all the Palácio is an authentic amalgam of architecture through the ages of Lisbon, just as it remains a home, a hotel, a gallery and a Palácio. Coustols, imparts one more thought “I have always liked eating sand and stones, I am a landscape collector, and I love to collect them as they are free” philosophical but interpretable after a stay at his “home”. Guests should admire, imbibe the atmosphere and add one more footprint upon the ancient steps, before leaving through that anonymous red door. Ramy Salameh* * Flew to Lisbon courtesy of Lisboa Convention Bureau



LARGE FORMAT PROJECTIONS: THE CHALLENGE OF CONTENT Good communication between the event agency and the content producer, attention to timings, updating of software and hardware are some challenges highlighted by Ricardo Guerra, from Hello Movement.

What challenges do large-format projections bring today to those who produce their content? There are many challenges to take into account when it comes to producing content for large-scale events. Some challenges are more practical, such as the complexity of the screen to be used, the type of content to produce, or even production timings. Other challenges are more in the creativity side. For example, how we are going to transmit a certain message, what type of graphics or animation may be the best for this or that brand, etc... In my opinion, there has to be excellent communication between content producers and event agencies so that we can go as far as possible to meet expectations. Actually, it is the agency that best knows the end customer and its objectives. Are customers sufficiently aware of timings involved, whenever there is a change in content, for example? It much depends on the experience customers have in this type of productions. A client who has already produced content of this scale, who regularly visits the studio, or even who has some notions of content production is certainly a customer more sensitive to production timings. It is necessary to have perfect notion that changes or refinements will always reflect in content, since their approval has many constraints and they are not always centralised in the same person. I think the solution is not to go against changes, but to create optimised work processes so that we can deal without major damage with last minute changes.

Can you give examples of what happens, what steps have to be taken, and how long does it take to make a simple change, such as a logo? There are different degrees of change... ranging from changing font, colour, or an image to most dramatic changes, ranging from “nothing like this” even after all steps have been approved, to a “the screen will no longer have this configuration” because, for example, the event venue had to be changed for compelling reasons... As I said, there are many people involved in the approval process, and there are also many “external” factors that can change the course of the event regardless of the amount of time that has already been spent and the amount of time that we still have available to operate these changes. We have to face these changes as necessary, and organise work so that we get everything ready in time.

What, in your perspective, is the added value of using this type of projection / content? When a client invests in an event, he has two goals in mind: to surprise and to communicate. And these projections and content are nowadays the main tool for these purposes. Content produced in large projections is used as support for brand presentations or speaker speeches, both with large audiences. This way it is possible to reinforce the message in a more dynamic and impactful way. The scenographic aspect of content is also a great asset. Nowadays, it is possible to achieve a total transformation of a venue using video content and large projections, thus ensuring a much more envolving environment in which the audience breathes and lives the brand or the message to be transmitted in that event.

Has your equipment changed a lot to keep up with this need / trend of large format projections? Equipment is always an effort element. Projections are getting bigger and bigger, renders are getting more demanding... No matter how good machines are, it is always possible to maximise their performance for a more beautiful result. We must always be aware of hardware and software updates that meet our needs and help us to offer the best response.

How do you measure the impact these solutions have on participants? Do you get any feedback? Feedback is measured at different times. The first is felt at guest arrival. The impact upon entering the room is obvious. It is always great to watch the audience looking at the screen in amazement, often looking around noticing the details. I like to call it the “WOW factor”, and it is one of my benchmarks in evaluating the content produced. In social media we can perceive the impact of a given production or event by the amount of images, posts and comments shared. Feedback from our customers is also very important and “easy to feel”. You see, however demanding a production is for all involved, whether content producers, event agencies, audiovisuals or even end customers, as soon as the event ends, you can feel the harmony and the energy of a job well done, and this is very enriching, being a unifying factor for all teams!! Then there is a later feedback, when for some reason we end up talking about content that was produced months or even years ago. Usually it begins with an exclamation such: “Ah, you were the ones you did the...”, and a pleasant and rewarding conversation follows.

Is it possible to have a plan B? That is, how do you deal with or prevent against technical failures, since much of these events depend on projections? An event is an ephemeral act, set in a period of time always shorter than desirable and rarely rehearsed at all. Usually it runs well and is a huge success for both the client and participants, but we can not forget the reality of being a technically very complex operation and that carries the risks of these possible technical failures. Technical flaws that can be minimised with good suppliers and technical equipment, but the reality is that they can always occur. One paradigm of this is redundancies and what we might call the “video project paradox”. It is a fact that a video projector can fail (rare in view of their current reliability, but a possibility), but let’s imagine we ask the client: can we double the number of projectors to have a back-up projector for each one in use to safeguard a technical failure, knowing this safety measure entails more costs? The client replies: more costs? No, that’s not my problem, if I’m paying for a video projector, it has to work, that’s your problem.




THE AZORES AND THE TOURISM REVOLUTION The Azores are one of the Portuguese regions that has grown the most in recent years and tourism, increasingly internationalised, has been setting itself as one of the fundamental vectors of this growth, the MICE product being part of this success.

Aware of Tourism’s importance for its economy, the Azores have witnessed a real revolution in the last two decades. This was due to the enormous institutional effort to equip the Azorean business community with a system of incentives that would allow the creation of tourism support infrastructure. Regarding the MICE product development, considering its seasonality attenuation and the multiplier effect it generates, the necessary mechanisms were created so that this destination was positioned in the map of both national and international destinies, with a great institutional opening in attracting and supporting event hosting. Tourism, motivated by meetings, events, congresses or incentives, is one of the facets of the Azorean tourism that is being developed and internationalised, thanks to the quality of infrastructure in the hotel and multifunctional venues area, for the which institutional and business initiative were decisive. The Azores tourism quality recognition is reflected in the increasing demand, nationally and internationally, for our destination for events, highlighting the last two major events in the area of Tourism, namely the ABTA and the APAVT congresses, for their

novelty and security. Also its location makes it attractive to the market of international associations, since it presents itself as a short-haul destination for both the European and American Continents, offering an endless range of opportunities for incentives and team-building events, for which imagination is the limit. It offers unique experiences, only possible in the Azores, and that can, over the next few years, serve as a differentiating factor between destinations. It has a new range of young professionals with more knowledge and more experience, qualities that new buyers seek. It offers the opportunity, in a short time, and with comfort and ease, to visit several islands and create various experiences around the same destination. We are aware the buyer is becoming more knowledgeable, more informed and more demanding, so we have sought to make the difference in the quality of our services, the simplicity of procedures in organising the events and the greatest possible support to the potential client. Today potential visitors in general and buyers in particular are looking for different experiences and this requires either new destinations or a new view on established destinations. The novelty factor is important for our Islands and, coupled with strong creativity of local agents and security, we have been gaining notoriety in the markets. Considering the good air connections, mainly with the Portuguese market, good infrastructure, excellent scenarios for outdoor activities and the know-how and competence from professionals, the Azores present themselves to the MI destinations sector in a highly differentiating and attractive way. Given the events that are already planned for the next two years, the future prospects are obviously good if we consider that the results have been steadily growing, which leads us to think that we are on the right track and that we should not deviate from the initially defined path, that is transforming the Azores into a reference MICE destination. Cristina Ă vila Tourism Delegate in the Regional Secretariat for Tourism in the Azores




WHAT ARE THE EVENT TRENDS FOR 2019? Each time a year begins we are swamped by stories, speeches and interviews with experts on current and future trends.

It happens throughout all sectors, including events and corporate travel. From apocalyptic predictions that some habits and daily activities’ days are over, to the illusion that from one hour to the next all players in the industry will be on the same page in relation to certain procedures, trends are among the most read on any website, magazine or newspaper. And in general each list comes with a magic number, like “The Top 10 Trends...” only to optimise Google searches. For 2019 there are a few trends based on keywords (not to mention clichés) such as Experience, Sustainability, Technology, Inclusion, Collaboration and Artificial Intelligence, Activation. I always wonder how much it would cost an event whose organisers and promoters set out to put, if not all, at least a good part of the trends listed each year. And where are the customers who would be willing to pay for them. Whether attending small meetings and medium and large events every month, producing a proprietary event or creating events for clients, I feel the difficulty of implementing the most mundane novelties at reasonable costs, integrating new technologies to participant-rooted procedures or choosing a speaker that offers content that is attractive and easy to implement in companies. After all, events are networking and knowledge sharing windows that should be put into practice and not just “thrill” or “motivate” guests in those few hours of the event. In fact, ensuring the effective guests attendance in the event is already a great challenge. Did you notice, for example, that many people’s bodies are in the event, but their heads are elsewhere? That at the slightest sign of annoyance in the lecture or presentation the audience pulls out the cell phone and enters a parallel world? Have you noticed how rare guests

who carry enough business cards are leaving their interlocutors with the promise of “sending” their contacts later, which usually only happens if there is any possibility of making a profit from that new relationship? Back to event typology, let’s talk about Technology. By my accounts, it ranks first among “upcoming” trends for at least five years. Electronic check-in, booking and payment platforms, activation with barcode reader, facial recognition, augmented reality. But how much does all this cost? Which client wants to make such an investment if, when he sees the preliminary draft, he is already cutting cost on coffee, juice, security personnel or half of the hostesses? What about applications, then? Of the events you recently attended that had custom apps, which ones did you download and effectively used? Also, how often did you use the app to interact with other participants, send questions to speakers, know in advance who your audience colleagues would be or with whom you could set up a meeting? The fact is that we humans are strange. We relate to trends and news in different ways and this needs to be taken into account by meeting planners. For example, today no one intends to just have an event. Everyone wants to “provide experiences”. However, experiences have different meanings for each audience. Hence the importance of knowing how to first identify who the event guests are, what is their intention in attending, where they come from, what tribes they belong to, what yearnings and fantasies they have, what are their habits and preferences in their day to day lives. Then you can equalise creativity and adapt the trend offer to the participants’ profile. We should also consider whether the model or trends to be adopted are coherent with the brand, institution or even the event sponsor. Because if there is no connection, there will be no echo. And then the lack of return on investment will be the only trend. Rose de Almeida Journalist, writer, blogger, publisher at Mice Business www.micebusiness.com.br




PORTO AND NORTH OF PORTUGAL: A BUBBLING MICE DESTINATION The Meetings Industry, or MICE, has been a very important vector in the international destinations promotion, by attracting events and congresses to the regions. In Portugal, the investment in this segment has been increasing in cities such as Porto, and the entire northern region of the country has been assuming an increasingly strong position, due to the tourist and economic impact, among others, it generates.

The Associação de Turismo do Porto e Norte (ATP), as Convention Bureau, has established and developed numerous international contacts to present Porto and the North Region as a relevant destination for the Meetings Industry. In this area alone, ATP was involved in attracting 196 congresses that took place throughout the region in 2018 and supported 479 events and congresses of various kinds. Countries such as the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Germany, Benelux and Italy continue to be the main incoming markets for Porto and the North Region, however, it is already possible to witness the interest of other markets such as the USA or the Middle East. In this process, air flights play a fundamental role, and here Porto already has 97 direct flights to various destinations. And it continues to focus on strengthening existing routes or establishing new air routes to new destinations. A good example is the opening of the Porto-Dubai route, which is expected to make the attracting of events easier, from markets that are now closer.

Rui Pedro Gonçalves

Also noteworthy is the new Congress Centres offer, such as Altice Forum Braga, opened in 2018, and the soon-to-be-open Super Bock Arena, in Porto, which will add to the region a higher capacity and more modern venues capable of hosting larger events.

Porto climbs up ICCA’s world ranking In the recently published ICCA rankings, Porto is once again rising to its 32nd position in a universe of 1835 cities evaluated, and the 20th place in the European ranking, which includes 844 cities. According to ATP – CVB’s executive director, Rui Pedro Gonçalves, “the result achieved is already a consequence of a strategy implemented at the beginning of the year, which allowed us to capture more events through a close connection with the associative and corporate sector. “The consolidation of this strategy will allow us to achieve more and better results in the coming years,” he added. “I believe that, in addition, the professionalization in the management of ICCA and Cvent’s database, which is ongoing, will be a very important element in the preparation of bid’s to capture larger events and give a greater visibility to the region in this field.” Gonçalves also points out that “this is a victory for the whole region and both the new Super Bock Arena Congress Centre and the reactivation of ATP’s work with Europarque will make the North Region see its position as MICE destination of excellence reinforced, equipped with modern infrastructure and capable of hosting more events and of greater dimension”.

A highly diversified offer





Alfândega Congress Centre, in the shore of Douro River, is suited for business, scientific, cultural and commercial events. It is one of the biggest and best congress centres in Portugal. Located in a historic building, 150 years old, renewed by architect Eduardo Souto Moura (who won the Pritzker in 2011), Alfândega is 10 minutes away from Porto’s main hotels and less than 30 minutes away from the airport, having a capacity of up to 5,000 pax.

Designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, Casa da Música was inaugurated in 2005 and has since become an icon of contemporary architecture, attracting visitors from all over the world. Dynamic and innovative programming, in a spectrum that goes from classical music to avant-garde urban trends, it benefits in large measure the four resident groups: Symphony Orchestra, Remix Ensemble, Baroque Orchestra and Choir. The institution, which has a magnificent view over the city, also hosts numerous events and congresses, spread throughout various creative halls.

The new Porto Cruise Terminal is the largest project ever to open the port to the city, making the Port of Leixões an important entry into the region and definitely boosting the growth in the number of cruise ships and passengers. It is also a venue itself, with a striking architecture, prepared to receive business events.

Altice Forum Braga, an essential centre in the North and the country, has a wide range of venues for congresses, concerts, fairs or other type of event. It is divided between the Congress Center, equipped with a large auditorium (1,454 seats), a small auditorium (254 seats) and several modular conference and meeting rooms, the Pavilion (12,000 seats) and the 20 thousand people, 620 parking spaces and an exhibition area for 300 stands. It is a meeting point for business and culture.





A building with a tremendous history in organising events and protocol ceremonies, Palácio da Bolsa is open for organizing congresses, receptions, gala dinners and other types of events. This palace, dated from the 19th century, is an obligatory stop for those visiting Porto. Who enters the Salão Árabe (Arabic Room) becomes marveled with its plasters from the end of the 19th century, engraved in golden Arabic characters, covering almost all of the ceiling and walls.

The Serralves Foundation, responsible for the Serralves Contemporary Art Museum, is also open to organise events. From conducting conferences in the auditorium to products’ presentations in the museum, parties and dinners at Casa de Serralves (Serralves Villa) to fashion shows in the Park, the Serralves Foundation is available to host all sorts of business events. Serralves still offers the possibility of organising incentive programmes of short or medium duration in its premises.

Europarque, located 25 kilometres south of Porto, in Santa Maria da Feira, close to the freeway junction Porto - Lisbon, joins a congress centre to a show room and a scientific disclosure room, offering, this way, conditions to turn its use more pleasant. With 500 thousand sqm of indoor and outdoor area, Europarque is one of the biggests and most versatile venues in Portugal, with the capacity to have 35 available venues working simultaneously.

The Port Wine Cellars are all located across the river from the old city centre of Porto and to get there you only need to cross the emblematic Luís I bridge. There are more than a dozen Port Wine Cellars and nearly all of them provide guided tours and tastings. They truly are a different, yet creative and historical place to host your event.




SETE VALES SUSPENSOS AND PICO DO ARIEIRO AMONG THE “MOST BEAUTIFUL HIKES IN EUROPE” Lagoa’s Sete Vales Suspensos trail, in the Algarve, was considered the Best Hiking Destination in Europe. Pico do Arieiro, in Madeira, is in the top 15.

© José Mendes

Pico do Arieiro

Sete Vales Suspensos (Seven Suspended Valleys)’s trail extends for 5.6 kilometres along Lagoa municipality, in the Algarve, land of some of the most famous beaches in the region. This walk connects the beaches of Vale Centeanes and Praia da Marinha, over some of the Algarve’s most iconic cliffs. The name comes from the fact that this trail is almost a continuous line of cliffs, intersected with water lines, giving the illusion of suspended valleys. Nature was quite generous with this region and the views are breathtaking. Along the trail there is the spectacular Benagil cave, one of the Algarve’s trademark images. The hike from Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo in Madeira island means walking more than 1800 metres above sea level. On cloudless days, it is even possible to have a clear view of the island’s coast, but if the weather is cloudy, the sensation is that one is walking practically next to the clouds. The tunnels, the vegetation, the altitude give an almost dizzying atmosphere to this trail.

The Sete Vales Suspensos trail was voted the Best Hiking Destination in Europe, in a ranking promoted by European Best Destinations. This walk, in the municipality of Lagoa, in the Algarve, was considered “a true treasure of rare beauty”, according to Região de Turismo do Algarve (RTA - Algarve Tourist Region). The competition gathered the votes of more than 28 thousand travellers from 153 countries to establish this ranking that includes two Portuguese trails. Sete Vales Suspensos top the list. The Plzevice Lakes (Croatia), El Camino del Rey (Spain), The Kjeragbolten Hike (Norway), Pico de Arieiro, Madeira (Portugal), Besseggen Ridge Hike (Norway), Adrspach-Teplice Rock Towns (Czech Republic), Island of Skye (Scotland), Bled (Slovenia), GR20 (Corsica), Mullerthal (Luxembourg), Three Peaks Hiking Trail (Italy), Ostrog (Montenegro), Trolltunga (Norway) and Svartisen Glacier (Norway) complete the Top15 of hiking destinations in Europe.




© Divulgação / Secretaria do Turismo do Ceará

© Divulgação / Secretaria do Turismo do Ceará

CEARÁ INVESTS IN A CONGRESS CENTRE AND AN AIR HUB TO POSITION ITSELF AS AN EVENT DESTINATION Since being chosen to host the Air France, KLM and Gol airline hub in northeastern Brazil, Ceará has been attracting the attention of both tourists and event and congress organisers.

With this airport hub and the largest Latin American event centre in Fortaleza, Ceará expects to grow 17% this year in the flow of Portuguese tourists. This expectation will make Portugal reach the second place in the list of countries that send tourists to this destination,

headed by France and followed by Italy, Germany and Argentina. If in 2017 the frequency was 14 international flights per week, now the state of Ceará registers 48 international flights a week, a significant increase in this area that encourages the



© Divulgação / Secretaria do Turismo do Ceará

entire trade to invest in different services and experiences. In addition to the pioneering nature of TAP, which has been traveling to the region for 20 years, there are now direct flights to Paris with Air France, Amsterdam to KLM, and Frankfurt to Condor, facilitating logistics to the traveller and putting the more than 500 kilometres beach coastline within reach of the European market. The Ceará Event Centre also contributes to establish Fortaleza, the capital of Ceará, as a corporate destination. The most modern of its kind in Latin America and the second largest in Brazil, with 76,000 sqm of floor space, is a multipurpose venue, divisible into up to 44 different areas, adaptable to organisers and events. The independent entries for each areas allow simultaneous events to occur, with different identities and needs, without interfering with each other. At the entrance of each hall there are a set of seven receptions that can work together depending on the event size. The venue recorded a revenue of R$ 11,196,975.71 (2,537,178.71 euros) in 2018, a 26.9% increase over 2017 and the best result since it was inaugurated in 2012. In all, there were 103 events last year, which received about 670 thousand people. For this year, 65 events are already scheduled, such as medical congresses, the XII International Book Biennial (August 16) and the Knowledge Fair (September 25), along with others already scheduled up until 2024.

SELFIES, ADVENTURE AND RELAX To complete the program of congress attractions and enrich any holiday list, there are renowned beaches and sites such as Jericoacoara, Morro Branco, Canoa Quebrada, Fortim, Lagoinha, Flecheiras and a diverse hotel network. Extreme, aquatic, adventure, mountain sports with a pleasant climate, a countryside rich in religious tourism or facing the Cariri geopark with its archeology and fossil formations museum make this region a must-see destination.

Rose de Almeida



© Cleiton Thiele

GRAMADO AND CANELA, TWO LOCATIONS AND A UNIQUE EVENT DESTINATION IN SOUTHERN BRAZIL European architecture can be deceiving. The well-defined seasons offer different colours and flavours, allowing several visits to the city and finding landscapes that are sometimes romantic, sometimes adventurous, but always welcoming.

Located in the south of Brazil, the cities of Gramado and Canela are recognised tourist sites that offer a wide choice of attractions and traditional calendar events. Natal Luz (Light Christmas), one of the biggest Christmas events in the world, with fireworks, sound and lights show, enchants entire families with various shows and street parades. Film lovers can enjoy its Film Festival, recognised as one of the biggest of its kind in the country. The mixture of Italian, Portuguese and German cultures is a striking feature in Gramado and Canela, cities that are brought together by tree-lined avenue. If it were not for an indicative sign, visitors would not know where one starts and another ends. This advantage favours travel itineraries, when visiting one place you get to know two charming ones. An ethnic melting-pot promoted by colonisation has in gastronomy its main value, offering a banquet for the most demanding palates. Gramado has more than 150 restaurants, from colonial cafes to fondues, grills, pizzerias, international, Italian, oriental, game and many others. It is one of those places where, when walking around the city, it is possible to enter any little door, eat well and taste local or international delicacies. To meet visitors with different budgets, the hotel network is wide and diversified. From the luxury of Saint Andrews hotel to the simplicity of hostels, inns, resorts and spas, Gramado is tradition and excellence in accomodation.

© Hub Estúdio – Vinícius Piagetti

Unforgettable events Nature was generous with Serra Gaúcha, region where Gramado and Canela cities are located. Natural beauty, restaurant and hotel infrastructure contribute to the site being one of the main cities in the country to host corporate events, offering 15 thousand housing units. In 2016, for example, Gramado was the first Brazilian city to feature in the list of Trivago hotel search engine as the fourth best city in the world in hotel reputation. Natural landscapes, with more than 50 tourist attractions, the preserved vegetation that surrounds these cities and famous sites such as Black Lake, Joaquina Rita Bier Lake, Major Nicoletti Square, Etnias Square, Caracol State Park, among others, offer important additions in alternative social programming to congresses and fairs. In this sense, Gramado has the largest tourist infrastructure in the state, with two large congress centres and trade fairs. Serra Park, for example, is in the middle of a park with 460,000 sqm and has 28,000 sqm of covered area,

central air conditioning and parking for 3,000 vehicles. Expo Gramado offers a versatile venue that includes auditoriums, halls and pavilion for exhibitions and fairs with an outdoor patio of 13,400 sqm, air conditioning in all rooms and capacity, in Hortênsia Hall alone, for 1,100 seats in auditorium. The lower ceiling height is 3.18 metres and the highest is 4.88 metres, in addition to a permanent stage with a total area of more than 100 sqm. Anyone who has ever heard of Gramado as the Brazilian Switzerland, which offers the pleasures of the cold weather along with its mist and bucolic landscapes craving for cheese and wines, must also be surprised by a city that is also enchanted during summer and spring, contemplating nature and with the same comfort and elegance infrastructure.

Rose de Almeida




© Bahrain Tourism & Exhibitions Authority

BAHRAIN’S ON TRACK TO BE MICE HUB ‘Boutique’ is certainly the buzz word in Bahrain right now. Gulf Air, the national airline recently announced its new boutique business model concept, using ‘Boutique’ as the differentiator amongst the larger airlines, in the design of their products and customer experience.

In the first quarter of 2019, Campbell-Gray Hotel Group opened ‘The Merchant House’, the Kingdom’s first true luxury boutique property, located in the financial harbour zone of Manama, an area of continued reclamation from the sea and regeneration. A clear indication that Bahrain understands and is willing to customise its offering around the needs of its business, MICE and leisure travel audiences. The Kingdom itself could be classed as ‘Boutique’, covering just 760 Sq. km and comprising of 33 Islands of which 6 are inhabited, the two largest being the modern capital Manama, and the former capital Muhurraq; however, this compact destination manages to pack a heavy-weight punch in terms of a long history and heritage, married with its culture, lifestyle, MICE and business output. These strengths are evolving through rapid development of facilities that are aimed at creating the Island Kingdom into a hub destination for the GCC. The figures reflect the strategy, Bahrain recorded 12 million visitors in 2018, up from 9.7 million in 2015 and the direct contribution of tourism as a non-oil sector in GDP terms has increased from 4.6% to 6.5%. In September 2019, Bahrain will host the region’s largest Chinese Trade Expo, with more than 100 Chinese firms coming to showcase their products and services at the ‘China Machinery Fair’. This will run in conjunction with the annual ‘Gulf Industry Fair’, to be held at the Bahrain International Exhibition & Convention Centre (BIECC). This is a big win for the Bahrain Tourism & Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) and helps position the Kingdom as a global events destination. Another big statement of intent, is the planned construction of the ‘Convention and Exhibition Expo City’ in Sakhir, which is scheduled to open in mid-2021. The expo city is strategically located nearby the Bahrain International

© Bahrain Tourism & Exhibitions Authority

Circuit (BIC), covering an area of 308,000 sqm. To put this in perspective, the new Exhibition and Convention Centre, will be ten times larger than BIECC, with 10 exhibition halls spanning a total area of 95,000 sqm, whilst the footprint of the building area alone covers 149,000 sqm. The cluster will also include hotels with a combined capacity of 1,200 rooms.

The MICE industry is one of the key pillars of the national economy, as is the realisation of several major real estate projects, covering residential, commercial and hospitality developments. These two industries came together at the second edition of the Bahrain Real Estate Expo 2019, held in ‘Bahrain City Centre Mall’ in February this year.



© Bahrain Tourism & Exhibitions Authority

All of these key strands, feed into Bahrain government’s over-arching ‘Economic Vision 2030’, which aims to develop the Island’s private sector growth and allow it to adapt to regional and global markets. Another example is Bahrain International Airport’s new terminal, which is expected to be on stream by the end of this year and will help Gulf Air to facilitate its new fleet and new stopover packages for passengers’ travelling on to a variety of destinations, such as Bangkok, several key cities in India, Sri Lanka and Manila. It will also be a springboard to attract more events and a greater flow of MICE visitors. The resulting capacity increase of passenger arrivals should jump from the current record of 9 million to 14 million passengers per year. As part of the Airport’s modernisation programme, is a new Private Jet Terminal, a move to attract HNWI from the region, strengthening its position as an attractive business and investment hub, which could certainly help to sustain major exhibitions, such as ‘Jewellery Arabia’, the Middle East’s premier jewellery and watch exhibition which attracts some 50,000 visitors. Whilst the Kingdom has a strong banking sector, second only to Oil and a leader in the global Islamic financing arena, it has not forgotten about developing its ‘soft power’ credentials, in terms of arts, culture and sport; with an eye to developing local Bahraini

Artists, ArtBAB, is Bahrain’s leading contemporary Art Fair and is one of several investments being made to foster the creative economy. The countries ‘Incentive’ options can explore various parts of Bahrain’s most recent and distant history which stretches across 5,000 years (something that is displayed at the Bahrain National Museum, a key venue in city) and even into the future. An example of this futurism, is the recent announcement that the Kingdom will launch of the world’s largest underwater theme park, which will be spread over 100,000 square metres, centred on a decommissioned Boeing 747, the largest aircraft ever to be submerged; the project will encourage coral growth, develop a habitat for marine wildlife and provide data on marine ecology and biology for researchers. In terms of recent history, Motorsport has become a global symbol for Bahrain; they were the first GCC country to host Formula 1. In March, the world’s elite F1 drivers descended on the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) in Sakhir, for the 15th consecutive year (and sixth successive year as a night race). The venue is at the top of the list for corporate incentives, both during the F1 weekend and during the rest of the year. The Bahrain International Karting Circuit, next to BIC has several corporate packages that can be tailored for groups of up to 20 people.

Track day events on the main circuit are also very popular; Kanoo Motors, an official distributor of McLaren in Bahrain, recently held an exclusive track event for McLaren owners and enthusiasts to test a range of the super car. BIC also hosted the opening race of the 2019 Ferrari Challenge season, Giorgio Turri, General Manager of Ferrari MiddleEast cited “Bahrain’s strategic location between Europe and Asia Pacific” and “being able to bring the challenge closer to our clients in the Middle East” as key reasons for selecting Bahrain to host a race.

© Bahrain Tourism & Exhibitions Authority

Incentive organisers can delve into the distant past and arrange for delegates to tour the UNESCO World Heritage listed ‘Pearling Trail’, which weaves it way through several sites and alleyways on Muharraq Island, the former Capital and once centre of the world’s pearling trade. This can be followed by the ultimate group experience of ‘Pearl Diving’, which is a tradition that can be traced back 4,000 years. Bahrain is using its boutique appeal, to set it apart from regional competitors, and offer a customised and unique offering, whilst nurturing a variety of mega-projects able to accommodate major events, to sustain and deliver on the BTEA’s strategic vision for the MICE sector. Ramy Salameh* *Stayed at Merchant House Hotel. Flights provided by Gulf Air. www.tejwalbahrain.com www.scubalife.bh











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