IMEX Policy Forum brings together the political world and meetings industry

Globalisation, localisation, city resilience, sustainability and legacy are among the key challenges facing the industry, as discussed at the IMEX Policy Forum at IMEX in Frankfurt on 16 May.

Ministers and political representatives from South Africa, the Netherlands, Argentina, Sweden and South Korea were among 30 national and regional politicians and government officials who engaged with 80 meetings industry leaders at the forum.

‘The Legacy of Positive Policy Making’ was the theme of the event, formerly known as the IMEX Politicians Forum, when it took place at the InterContinental Hotel Frankfurt on Day 1 of the show, 15 May. The theme is closely allied to the IMEX 2018 Talking Point of Legacy, with Political Legacy one of the five ‘lenses’ through which the Talking Point is being explored. The agenda explores how to bridge the ‘partnership gap’ that exists between governments, national and local, and the meetings industry.

Following a visit to the trade show, the afternoon began with a private national government discussion in collaboration with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) chaired by Nina Freysen-Pretorius, president of the International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA).

Professor Greg Clark CBE led a workshop for local, municipal and regional policy makers and destination representatives. Exploring ‘the evolution of cities in the meetings industry,’ Clark highlighted how every city went through a number of different cycles in the development of meetings business.

These cycles were well illustrated by six case studies from Sydney, Singapore, Dubai, Tel Aviv, Cape Town and Barcelona, which showed how they were initiated by various factors – from airline and airport development, to supportive mayors, building convention centres and hosting major international events.

Gloria Guevara Manzo, president & CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) delivered the opening keynote address at the Open Forum, which was moderated by Michael Hirst OBE. Based on research among WTTC members, she said the top three challenges facing the travel and tourism sector in fulfilling outstanding growth potential were security, crisis preparedness and management and sustainability.

Manzo highlighted the importance of wide ranging collaboration and partnerships between travel industry organisations, namely when engaging with governments on issues like visa facilitation and reciprocity, and in progressing biometrics as a facilitator for security and efficiency.

Discussing sustainability, Manzo said “We must no longer think about PPP (Public Private Partnerships) but about PPC – Public, Private and Community,” because the industry needed to have the support of communities, and she highlighted the future of work as an important new consideration alongside destination and social responsibility, global climate action and tourism for tomorrow.

Taking part in the day of activities and discussions provided revealing insights for the delegates. Elizabeth Thabethe, Deputy Minister of Tourism for South Africa, a first-time visitor said that the discussion in the Policy Forum had been good and helpful in learning what more South Africa can do to bring major events to the country. Her thought on Gloria Guevara Manzo’s speech was; “Wow!”

Justice Thomas Mihayo, chairman of the Tanzania Tourist Board felt that “the discussions on many heavy topics were very good. I wish there had been more time to go further into them.”

Ray Bloom, chairman of the IMEX Group commented: “The discussions were fascinating and showed the increasing engagement and understanding between the political world and the meetings industry.

“IMEX has been bringing the meetings world and public policy makers together for many years and has helped to develop real appreciation of how together they can drive economic growth. Over the years we have seen genuine progress and I’m confident that today’s IMEX Policy Forum took this collaboration further forward. That is our Political Legacy,” added Bloom.

The IMEX Policy Forum’s advocacy partners are Association Internationale des Palais de Congres (AIPC), European Cities Marketing (ECM), ICCA, the Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC), The Iceberg and UNWTO. The Forum is sponsored by Business Events Australia, Business Events Sydney, German Convention Bureau, Geneva Convention Bureau, Saudi Exhibition & Convention Bureau, Messe Frankfurt and the Meetings Mean Business Coalition.

For more details about the IMEX Policy Forum, click here.



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