The country hosted two huge events this year, the ESC congress in Barcelona (above 30,000 participants) and ESMO in Madrid (above 19,000) with huge success. And Seville was the city used for the first edition of the European Best Event Awards which took place outside Italy.
Beyond meetings, tourism is looking good: Figures from Turespaña, the Spanish tourism office, show a record 52.4 million international visitors to the country between January and September 2014, a 7.4% increment compared to the same period in 2013.
The most recent news is that Spain could be the country in shape in Europe, what a reversal! Years of sacrifice and restructuring have left it very competitive, ready to fight for international markets, export, and coming back to positive growth as the rest of Europe is slowing down. Spain is even the country where the number of meetings will grow more in 2015 according to the American Express Meetings & Europe Meetings Forecast. According to Grupo eventoplus´ research, the pickup started with conventions becoming a must again, after being suspended for some of the bad years, and incentive travel becoming acceptable after a few years of bad press. Even the trade show activity picks up: Madrid´s IFEMA announced for instance if plans to close 2014 with a 10% increase in revenues.
But while a ray of light clearly appears at the end of the tunnel, Spanish are cautious after years of bad news. The 2014 Spanish market study by Group eventoplus pointed to stability, with 43% of meeting planners planning a stable budget.
Despite economic difficulties, or maybe because of them (the recession has made many Spaniards entrepreneurs...), innovation has been all over the event and meeting market. Providers of event app, streaming, temporary wi-fi, interactive audiovisuals, mappings, have multiplied. Initiatives like the Event Innovation Summit bring the latest in neurology, psychology, arts... into our industry. And a laundry list of trends seen in Spain includes healthier food, interactive formats, shorter presentations, a-la-carte activities in conventions and incentives, technology and social networks in meetings, and immersive experiences.
And another detail: Spain is active internationally, being represented in international associations such as ICCA, SITE, and IAPCO.