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IMEX 2007: Politicians Forum inspired by enthusiasm of meetings industry

( 14 politicians attended the IMEX Politicians’ Forum yesterday from across the world to learn how the meetings landscape has changed over the last 12 months and how future changes are likely to impact their local economies. The Forum, now in its 5th year, has gained increased interest from politicians and the meetings industry around the world because of its specific focus on increasing awareness of the economic and social value of meetings on the local community.

The politicians and local government representatives, who came from Belgium, Canada, Croatia, France, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Sweden, Turkey and UK amongst others, heard Rob Cameron, President of Criterion Communications explain how important the meetings industry can be in creating a foundation for long-term local economic growth.

Michael Hirst, OBE and Chairman of the UK Business Tourism Partnership also reminded the group how much the meetings industry has grown over the past decade, thanks to cheaper air travel, improved transport links, the spread of the worldwide web, continued development in infrastructure and globalisation. Despite the rate of change, he explained that there was still plenty of opportunity for both emerging and established destinations to capitalise on the meetings market.

Following the morning’s introduction and a summary of 15 case studies of cities that have successfully developed a strong and dynamic relationship between their local politician and the meetings industry, the group was given a tour of the IMEX show. For many the impact was immediate and striking. Several delegates commented on the vibrancy, knowledge and passion demonstrated by exhibitors – a dimension to the industry they admitted they hadn’t previously understood.

One politician, Dr Zoltan Somogyi, the Hungarian Secretary of State for Tourism commented, “The day was very exciting and an excellent opportunity for us all to understand the impact that the industry has on our countries. Personally I now believe that it is the responsibility of State governments to support their local regions with resources and budget to help them develop to their full potential”.

The group reconvened for a presentation by Barbara Maple, President of JMIC (Joint Meetings Industry Council). She gave delegates an update on the JMIC Strategic Communication Plan - “Meetings Mean Progress". The group was also introduced to the newly merged association – European Cities Marketing (ECM) by Elisabeth Hansa, Member of the Board of Directors and Chair of the Conventions Division Steering Committee.


Editor’s Notes:
- The IMEX Politicians Forum is organised by IMEX and ECM, under the auspices of JMIC.
- A full report of the Politicians Forum will be available after IMEX 2007

Media Contacts:
Carina Bauer
Tel +44 (0) 1273 227311
Kit Watts
Mob (0)7968 417518

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