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Ground breaking agreement for global meetings industry

An historic partnership to raise the profile and value of the international meetings industry among Governments has been launched at EIBTM 2004…

An historic partnership to raise the profile and value of the international meetings industry among Governments has been launched at EIBTM 2004 in Barcelona.

The agreement between the World Tourism Organisation (WTO), ICCA, Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and EIBTM has already received the support of the councils and boards of all the leading associations.

The WTO is a specialised agency of the United Nations.

“This is a significant moment for the industry,” said Tom Nutley, Chairman of Reed Travel Exhibitions, organisers of EIBTM.

“An opportunity for the industry to really prove its worth at Government level and gain the kind of truly global recognition that it so surely warrants and deserves.

“This is not a flash in the pan agreement but an evolving partnership that started more than 18 months ago and is here for the longer term”, continued Nutley.

“The associations began to discuss the possibility of working with the WTO at EIBTM in May 2003, following a proposal by EIBTM and Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE). Since that time there have been a number of meetings and discussions about how best to progress.

“The key objectives are to raise awareness, understanding and value of the meetings industry with Governments with the assistance of the WTO, using the respected and proven Tourism Satellite Account (TSA), and to focus on core value issues of the industry such as GDP and contribution to job creation within the economy.”

Mr. Antonio de la Morena, Chief Executive Officer for the WTO Affiliate met representatives of more than 20 key associations at a dinner at the Palau Reial de Pedralbes, Barcelona on Monday 29 November – immediately before EIBTM’s opening day – when the findings of the initial survey were presented.

Dr. Dawid de Villiers, WTO’s Deputy Secretary-General, said he welcomed the partnership.

“The initial survey findings confirm what most associations already understood”, said Dr. de Villiers.” Current statistics are muddled and inadequate and there is a strong case for harmonisation. There is confusion over definitions and a wide variety of structures.

“Government involvement in the meetings industry has so far been limited although there is a widespread appreciation of the industry’s economic benefits. There is a clear need for more research and guidance and we look forward to working with MPI, ICCA and EIBTM.

Tuula Lindberg, ICCA Immediate Past President and ICCA Board WTO representative said: Accurate statistics for the meetings industry is a goal which we have struggled to achieve over many years.

“Some individual cities and a few countries have been able to develop local statistics covering some market segments, but common standards and consistency between studies have never been possible.

“The involvement of WTO with their internationally respected track record in statistical analysis and their global perspective finally raises the prospect of making concrete progress. This is why ICCA, as a globally representative association, is so delighted to be collaborating in this worthwhile endeavour.

According to Hugh Lee, 2004-2005 Chairman of the Board for Meeting Professionals International: “Meetings and events are vital to the success of business and provide a significant boost to the global economy. We are pleased to join our industry partners ICCA, EIBTM and the WTO to raise the profile of our industry and make meetings a true profession around the world.”

Phases One and Two

Phase one of the agreement is already under way with the results of a WTO survey to 144 WTO Member States on the current state and attitudes to the meetings industry.

The second phase is the commissioning of a research document by the key partners to present at the WTO conference in the autumn of 2005. The document will make recommendations for implementation via the TSA. It is hoped there will also be further development of the findings in conjunction with the United Nations of which the WTO is now an official agency.

The document will be in three parts:

Part 1

International Meetings Industry (MICE) – ‘At a glance, snapshot…’

Part 2

The economic importance of the meetings industry

Part 3

Proposals for the improvement of national statistics and the TSA to better reflect the economic importance of the meetings industry

The terms of reference for the document have now been agreed between the partners and a suitable agency will be appointed before the end of 2004.


EIBTM 2004

WTO Tourism Market Trends: The International Meetings Industry

December 2004

Start of study: The Economic Importance of the Meetings Industry

April 2005

Milestone: Proposal on improved classifications to the UN Statistical Division

October 2005

WTO Conference, South America: ‘The Tourism Satellite Account – Understanding Tourism and Designing Strategies’

(A presentation and discussion of first results of study)

EIBTM 2005

Presentation of final report, results


Working together to disseminate and implement recommendations.

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