Congress (or convention) tourism is becoming increasingly important in today’s economy, as it includes not just typical travel and accommodation services but also services specific to the MICE industry for businesses and individuals. MICE events bring from about €1,000-1,500 per participant due to registration, travel and accommodation fees, not to mention any money he may spend on leisure activities. A traditional tourist, however, may just pay for the bare minimum travel and accommodation costs.
Nina Erneker, MICE specialist at the Bratislava Tourist Board (BTB), told The Slovak Spectator that the MICE tourism sector not only brings economic success in terms of accommodation and travel services like traditional tourism, but also brings in from event venues, creates skilled jobs, as well as raises the country’s international reputation and the citizens’ quality of life.
Many cities such as Prague or Barcelona are actually surpassing the amount of events they can successfully and comfortably host within their city. Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, however, is finding itself fighting for attention from international MICE planners. To attract more attention towards Slovakia, particularly Bratislava, the BTB launched a new marketing strategy. There needed to be a clear message relating what Bratislava can bring or provide for event planners that other destinations cannot. As we have written in a previous article, the three words being used to tag Bratislava are: Accessibility, Innovation and Execution. Safety is another important point used to market the destination to different event planners. Andrea Baloghová, head of media and external communication at GLOBSEC states, “apart from the major metropolitan areas, Bratislava is more serene, and in today’s world full of terrorist attacks, provides visitors with a relative sense of safety.”
Another great point about Bratislava and Slovakia, in general, is that it serves as a border between western and eastern Europe. Therefore, the Slovak capital can host a neutral platform for different events with participants arriving from all over Europe according to Ms. Baloghová.
In 2015, Slovakia hosted only 26 events in comparison to Austria’s 258. In 2017, this number is already on the rise. Slovakia will organize a number of events including the 12th GLOBSEC security forum and the Central European Congress on Obesity (CECON). According to calculations from the Bratislava Tourism Bureau, these events should bring in a whopping €6.5 Million in revenue! Over the next few years, Bratislava will continue attracting more prestigious events such as the 50th anniversary of International Chemistry Olympiad (ICHO), which will be held in collaboration with Prague in 2018. The inflow of international companies and establishment of startup culture within Slovakia are certainly playing a factor in Bratislava’s rise as a center of congress tourism.
The Slovak capital definitely has become a great new destination for MICE planners to consider. The Incheba Expo Bratislava, the largest congress centre in Slovakia, can hold up to 4,500 participants. Most venues, however, are best suited to host up to 500 participants.
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