This event, a joint initiative of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, Saez Decom, Turisme de Barcelona, was held in La Llotja (the former stockmarket of the city and therefore a symbol of the events power as a stimulator of commerce and economy, as Ray Torrents reminded in his speech).
A safe event (another one!...)
Upon arrival, all attendees had to undergo a rapid antigen test and received a new FFP2 personal protective mask, with the obligation to put it on (a simple trick to maximize safety: ensure that all participants have perfect masks). And inside, despite these controls at the entrance, the behaviors of sanitary responsibility were absolute. The outdoor patio, the high ceilings... were other points in favor of safety.
Interventions: the various points of view of the events value chain
The event, led by the journalist Elisabet Carnicé, included the participation of different types of actors involved in the event value chain, from economy (the president of the Chamber of Barcelona Mónica Roca y Aparici), to tourism promotion (the director of Barcelona Convention Bureau Christoph Tessmar), event industry (Event Management Institute CEO Raimond Torrents), providers (Michelin-star chef Nandu Jubany) and the final customer (ISE CEO Mike Blackman), plus the point of an essential expert these days: the doctor specialized in internal medicine and infectious diseases Oriol Mitjà, who explained the risk levels posed by an event and recalled the importance of tests as a factor of almost eliminating any risk in events.
The economic power of events
Christoph Tessmar stressed the consequences for the economy caused by the sudden stop of events. According to the Barcelona Convention Bureau, the economic impact of the meetings and congresses held in Barcelona in 2019 was 1.8 bn euros (including the spending of those attending events coming from outside Catalonia in hotels, restaurants, shops and leisure). A figure that would be even higher if the impact of the fairs and also of the other events organized by the companies, such as openings, product presentations, teambuilding and training, among others, were added.
Another data that illustrates this ability of events to generate economic activity: the events organized at the Fira de Barcelona exhibition ground have an annual economic impact of more than 4.7bn euros, generate more than 35,000 jobs and 971 million euros in tax revenue. He also recalled that this sector has a multiplier effect of 1.8: for every 100 euros produced, 180 are generated for the economy as a whole.
A catalytic effect for the whole of society
Tessmar reminded that “we help attract talent and innovation, stimulate markets, facilitate commercial exchange and, in addition, we bring to our country people from all around the world who consume, stay in our hotels, buy souvenirs and end up returning with their friends or families”. “We are commerce, we are tourism, we are innovation, we are culture, we are networking of the highest level. We are, in short, a strategic industry for our economy and we need to be recognized in order to survive, grow and continue to add value”, she recalled.
Christoph Tessmar also reminded us that Barcelona is a reference in medical congresses: the 5 main European medical congresses of reference have Barcelona among their cities of rotation, including the European Congress of Cardiology, which brings together more than 30,000 experts. On the other hand, the city has managed to attract world leading events such as the Mobile World Congress or ISE, in addition to the Cisco, HP or SAP world conventions. All this has contributed to Barcelona becoming one of the main Start Ups hubs in the world. The catalytic effect of events is considerable.
This event was also a moment of affirmation of an often transparent sector. "If you do not see all the preparation and companies involved behind an event, it means that the event is a success. But this invisibility principle means that now we go unnoticed as a sector", said Ray Torrents.
ISE is confirmed
Faced with the publications of each MWC withdrawal, a sensationalist media game that creates doubts about the event even if cancellations are very limited for being such a large show, the other giant (ISE is of a comparable size to MWC) confirms its commitment to a face-to-face event in Barcelona at the beginning of June, which will be completed by local versions in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Germany.
The BacktoEvents movement publishes a manifest about the need to go back to face-to-face events. They demand the reactivation of safe face-to-face events, and that the devastating effects that lengthening their shutdown causes on the economy be taken into account. The return to events, trade shows, congresses, implies the reactivation of other industries hit by the crisis: catering, transport, hotels, etc. The manifesto, available on the website backtoevents.org, already has more than 1,500 accessions. And still accepting signatures, we encourage you to join at www.backtoevents.org.
The back-to-event promoters also consider that with the application of this action plan, a double impact would be generated: on the one hand, the economy of the sector and that of the other agents involved would be reactivated, and on the other, the number of people tested would increase, cutting chains of contagion and providing data to the health system to monitor the virus.