Home' micenet eMag : micenet AUSTRALIA February March 2015 Contents W
hen ICCA opened its first
regional chapter in 1971 it
picked Latin America. After
global industry operator
MCI opened in Asia it set its sights on Latin
America in 2008. It now has offices in
Argentina, Brazil and Chile. PCMA recently
developed a strategic partnership with rising
star, Colombia. Brazil hit the bid jackpot with
major event wins for both the FIFA World Cup
and the Olympics this decade. Associations
eye the region for potential new members.
South America is on the move.
The last time I visited Buenos Aires I was
passing through on my way to the
International Congress & Convention
Association (ICCA) congress in Rio de
Janeiro in 1996. I remember the excellent
beef and red wine. The Argentina currency
was pegged to the US dollar so it was a
relatively expensive city for Australians. This
time, in November 2014, the steak and red
are still legendary, but the Argentinean peso
has been in freefall since the country
defaulted on its national debt. It is a much
different destination price-wise, boosting its
The ICCA Congress returns to South
America in 2015, this time to Argentina. Full
marks to the local team from Buenos Aires
which beat heavy hitters Dubai and Houston
to win the bid.
That’s one of many congress wins for a
SOUTH AMERICA | ELIZABETH RICH
city which has held ICCA’s #1 spot for The Americas for the last five years, all achieved without
a purpose-built convention centre. A new centre is due to open towards the end of 2015, but
the city has yet to gear up its marketing for this venue, with no operator appointed as yet. So
ICCA will be held in La Rural, a large multi-purpose pavilion within an even larger agriculture
downtown complex comparable to Sydney’s RAS.
In 2008 the Argentinean Ministry of Tourism gave the green light to a National Meeting
Industry Marketing Plan. It was developed with the National Institute of Tourism Promotion
(INPROTUR) and the local industry. Within six years, the country has increased its local and
regional convention bureaux from six to 26 and Argentina has steadily risen up the ladder to
17th place in ICCA’s rankings for international meetings in 2013, just one spot behind Australia.
Local industry operators report Argentina is underpinned by a strong local association base
and reputable professionals on international bodies, especially in the medical field. The country
is known as a nation of immigrants which helped cement links with some key European
A big diaspora network and a strong global sporting presence has boosted the country’s profile,
topped off with today’s Pope who hails from Buenos Aires. Legalised gay marriage back in 2010
has lifted the lucrative pink and blue market. The colour, culture and natural attractions of the
country have long attracted the leisure market. Thirty airlines providing international air access helps.
Prior to local and national governments stepping up to the plate, the industry had to fend for
itself. Active meeting industry practitioners lifted the industry through their local associations and
their personal efforts. Considering the Buenos Aires Convention Bureau, only formed in 2007,
operates with limited funds and a staff of two, and the national annual meetings marketing
budget is reportedly only around US$2million, the government strategies backed by dedicated
private efforts seem to be paying off.
But locals would like to see international meetings integrated into government masterplans
beyond tourism to other areas such as health and business. Subvention beyond bid support
such as air tickets plus visa support is rare. More marketing dollars and recognition outside
tourism is needed to reach its full potential.
Argentina is not alone with this call, although increasingly countries are developing smarter
meetings strategies linked to their knowledge economies. 2015 offers an opportunity to elevate
business events to the next level with the new convention centre opening at a time both national
and Buenos Aires elections are due to be held.
Brazil, the world’s seventh largest economy and South America’s number one, has been
South America’s impressive rise in the meetings industry over recent
decades is only matched by Asia and the Middle East.
Elizabeth Rich investigates.
SOUTH AMERICA CALLING
La Boca colour.
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