The role that meetings and events can play in destinations in a world where globalization, free trade, free movement and social order is undergoing critical change was a theme central to the keen and engaging discussions when almost 30 politicians and policy makers came together with 80 industry leaders at the 15th annual IMEX Politicians Forum.
The Forum brought national and regional government ministers and political influencers to the Hotel Villa Kennedy Frankfurt for this highly anticipated annual event.
The politicians who represented ministries of economic development as well as tourism came from across the world, from Australia to Sweden.
The full day program provided an extensive insight into the benefits that the meetings industry can bring, in addition to the opportunity to debate and share best practice. Politicians were given an exclusive VIP guided tour of the IMEX trade show, visited their own national or regional stands and attended the show’s Opening Ceremony.
In the afternoon, Nina Freysen-Pretorius, President of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) chaired the opening National Government Discussion in collaboration with UNWTO which was attended by government ministers while John Greenway, former Member of Parliament in the UK, moderated the local and regional level discussions.
The keynote speech was presented by Professor Greg Clark OBE. He addressed five key themes and issues including: Urbanisation and Globalising Cities, Populism and Anti-Globalisation; Nations and Cities; City Success and the Meetings Industry; and Making the Marriage between City Government and the Meetings Industry Work.
On this particular subject he emphasised the need for city governments to estimate the value of the meetings industry properly and, equally, for meetings industry leaders to organise effective advocacy for their sector. He concluded with valuable lists of “10 things meetings leaders should be doing to optimise the city” and “10 things cities should be doing to optimise their meetings industry”.
In the main Open Forum, moderated by Michael Hirst OBE in conjunction with Greg Clark, all the politicians, government officials and industry leaders shared their thoughts and ideas on the five key themes that Greg Clark has covered in his speech.
The whole day aroused a positive response from the politicians. Augustine Kungu Olal from the Prime Minister’s Office in Tanzania said: “There are many common issues and it was good to share experiences and ideas in the national discussion and the Open Forum. I’m taking away some good advice. I was also very encouraged by my visit to the exhibition in the morning. It was eye-opening.”
Penilla Gunther, a Member of Parliament from Sweden said; “This event can make a very valuable contribution to developing understanding between politicians and this industry especially when everyone interacts in the sessions.”
Ray Bloom, Chairman of the IMEX Group said: “As an industry-leading advocacy event, the Politicians Forum has made an important contribution to achieving the growing appreciation, among politicians, of the wide ranging economic, social and education benefits that can be gained by investing in conferences and meetings.
“Over the last 15 years we have seen the debate move forward from demonstrating that the industry can contribute to debating how to maximise that contribution.”
The IMEX Politicians Forum is organised in collaboration with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), European Cities Marketing (ECM), the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), the International Association of Convention Centres (AIPC) under the auspices of the Joint Meetings Industry Council.