Venues in Istanbul enjoy events boom
Participants pose for a family photo at the Leaders of Change Summit in Istanbul, which started on March 14. The city offers ‘historical destinations, vivid nightlife and diverse shopping options’ to participants to conventions, a professional says.
Turmoil sweeping through North Africa and the Middle East has driven international summits and conferences to Istanbul. Operating as a safe harbor in the region, the city ranked as the sixth in Europe for “conference tourism” last year, according to a top executive of the city’s Convention Bureau.
“Many companies have preferred shifting corporate meetings to Istanbul due to the Arab Spring,” Elif Balcı Fisunoğlu, general manager of the Istanbul Convention Visitors Bureau (ICVB), told Hürriyet Daily News.
Turkey currently has a positive role in the region, while increasing political and economic influence has played a significant role in the growing number of international conferences and summits taking place in Istanbul, Fisunoğlu said.
“Turkey has turned into a political and economic power in the area, stimulating interest in Istanbul as a meeting destination,” said Pervin Zeydanlı Yalazan, general manager of Uktaş, which runs the Istanbul Convention and Exhibition Center. Offering historical destinations, vivid nightlife and diverse shopping options between Asian and Europe, Istanbul provides “more than an average meeting” for participants, according to Yalazan.
Sixth city in Europe
Istanbul ranked the sixth biggest convention and conference city in Europe, and seventh in the world in the number of events held last year, according to the ICVB. The city hosted 109 international conferences whereas in 1999 it was only 23. In terms of the number of attendees, Istanbul ranked 11th in the world and sixth in Europe.
Noting that the number of participants rose to 46,375 last year, from around 9,987 in 1999, Fisunoğlu said, “Our primary aim is now to place Istanbul among the top five city destinations of international conventions and conferences.”
She said international meetings generate a significant amount of capital for various sectors in the country. According to her, a congress of nearly 15 to 20,000 participants would add nearly $60 billion to Istanbul’s economy.
Istanbul has seven conference halls, three exhibition centers and a total of a 70,000 room capacity, as well as 74 five-star hotels.
There is no city in the region with a similar capacity, which places the city in unique position among possible rival destinations, says Fisunoğlu. According to official numbers, Vienna tops the list with the most international conference meetings.