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November 24, 2009
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The sun rises on Istanbul’s meetings potential




A natural gateway spread over two continents, Europe and Asia, and divided by the Bosphorus Straits, the Turkish city of Istanbul is a metropolis that’s proud of its rich history stretching back more than 8,000 years. Its global historical significance has never been in doubt, and now its status is also rising as a major global meetings and events destination.

Istanbul’s natural beauty, its exciting blend of ancient and modern and its burgeoning infrastructure makes it a unique meeting place for international congresses and meetings. This has been reflected in its astonishing rise up ICCA’s international association meeting destination rankings from 40th in the year 2000 to 15th in 2008.
Along with the developments in the meeting industry, Istanbul’s foreign visitor numbers exceeded 7 milion in 2008, with a constant increase of 16-20% year on year.

The right tools
The city’s meeting infrastructure is expanding to meet the increasing potential, the demands of international congresses and the city’s reputation in the market. Harbiye Congress Centre opened its doors for IMF World Bank meeting in October, and will bring the capacity of Congress Valley to 20,000 people together with other venues within walking distance, such as Istanbul Convention & Exhibition Centre and Hilton Convention Centre. Meanwhile, Golden Horn Convention and Cultural Centre made its soft opening in March this year, and hosted the 5th World Water Forum with almost 30,000 participants.

The foundation of Istanbul Convention and Visitors Bureau (ICVB) in 1997 has been key to the development Istanbul as an important global meetings and events destination. Being an active member of major meeting industry associations, such as ICCA, DMAI and ECM, from the date it was founded, ICVB has created a great awareness of Istanbul and maintained strong business relationships with international associations and corporations, while actively networking across the globe.

Raising awareness
The ICVB exhibits at international trade shows, attends global workshops and business exchange programmes, and produces and distributes promotional materials, along with organising familiarisation trips and inspection visits for potential congresses. The ICVB also encourages its members and industry players to actively take part in international meeting industry events, and shares its experience and knowledge.

Showing its standing in the meetings and events industry, the IAPCO National Seminar will be held in Istanbul this year. Meanwhile, to help maintain its growing global profile, the city is launching a ‘Be the Ambassadors of Istanbul’ programme, which encourages national associations’ participation in winning business for the destination to help secure future events.

However, arguably one of the city’s greatest ambassadors was Napoleon Bonaparte, who was once quoted as saying: “If the world was a single country, Istanbul would be its capital.”


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