«EIBTM is the annual global meetings and incentives exhibition in Barcelona. Bringing together nearly 3,000 international suppliers with 6,000 visitors, Hosted Buyers and press for 3 days of best business opportunities, best networking and best professional education.» (http://www.eibtm.com )
Business Travel and Tourism is an important niche in tourism industry and the most profitable. Maybe that is why it is considered as a horizontal niche in the economic development of the cities. Trade Fair and Exhibitions are not only a thriving business but also an efficient marketing tool for cities. Both strengthen, in a very significant way, the position of the city at international level.
In Spain, Instituto de Estudios Turísticos  statistics show its growth since 2001 (2001:2,9 millions tourists, 2005:5,7 million tourists) and its growing importance in the development of cities.
EIBTM gaves me the opportunity to attend Rob Davidson’s Seminar (EIBTM Industry Analyst and Senior Lecturer in Business Travel and Tourism at University of Westminster). Prof. Davidson is a sought after keynote speaker on industry trends and Market share and is responsible of presenting the Annual Report on the industry (free access at EIBTM official site).
In figures released by ICCA (International Congress and Conventions Association)  in 2006, European cities continue to perform well as national and international destinations for Congresses and Incentives. Seven out of the world’s ten most popular destinations for international meetings were situated in Europe: Vienna, Barcelona, Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, Budapest and Stockholm. The ranking in previous years was:
2005/ 2004 City
1/ 2 Vienna
2/ 3 Singapore
3/ 1 Barcelona
4/ 4 Berlin
5/ 5 Hong Kong
6/ 7 Paris
7/ – Amsterdam
8/ – Seoul
9/ 9 Budapest
10/ 9 Stockholm
We see that Barcelona, which was first in 2004 and third in 2005, continue being a relevant destination for Business Tourism.
Regarding countries, ICCA report revealed that out of the top ten countries for international meetings, eight were situated in Western Europe: Germany, Spain, UK, France, Netherlands, Italy, Austria and Switzerland.
The EIBTM report gives also other very interesting data regarding:
– Markets. For instance, Spain seems to be the first, second and third foreign destination country in which meetings planners have booked the majority of their conference/incentive business in the past 12 months. Not bad at all. Imagine the positive impact on hotel sector.
– Trends: new destinations (factors of influence to book), ongoing volatility (mainly due to terrorist threats), transports (oil price), corporate social responsibility (environmental credentials, help local communities) and return on investment (value-for-money not only for companies, but also for Cities).
This is a very interesting segment to analyse, since Cities are now investing huge amounts of money to develop the required infrastructure (congress centres, exhibition trade fairs, etc.). And it is something that has to be done in cooperation with the private sector (hotel sector, leisure, restaurants, etc.), but we can talk about it another day…