AN historic partnership to raise the profile and value of the international meetings industry among governments was launched at EIBTM 2004 in Barcelona.
The agreement between the World Tourism Organisation (WTG), a specialised agency of the United Nations, ICCA, Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and EIBTM has already received the support of the councils and boards of all the leading associations.
“This is a significant moment for the industry,” said Tom Nutley, chairman of Reed Travel Exhibitions, organisers of EIBTM. “An opportunity for the industry to really prove its worth at government level and gain the kind of truly global recognition that it so surely warrants and deserves. This is not a flash in the pan agreement but an evolving partnership that started more than 18 months ago and is here for the longer term. The associations began to discuss the possibility of working with the WTO at EIBTM in May 2003, following a proposal by EIBTM and Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE). Since that time there have been a number of meetings and discussions about how best to progress. The key objectives are to raise awareness, understanding and value of the meetings industry with governments with the assistance of the WTO, using the respected and proven Tourism Satellite Account (TSA), and to focus on core value issues of the industry such as GDP and contribution to job creation within the economy.”
Dr Dawid de Villiers, WTO’s deputy secretary-general, said he welcomed the partnership. “The initial survey findings confirm what most associations already understood,” said Dr. de Villiers. “Current statistics are muddled and inadequate and there is a strong case for harmonisation. There is confusion over definitions and a wide variety of structures. Government involvement in the meetings industry has so far been limited although there is a widespread appreciation of the industry’s economic benefits. There is a clear need for more research and guidance and we look forward to working with MPI, ICCA and EIBTM.”
Phase one of the agreement is already under way with the results of a WTO survey to 144 WTO Member States on the current state and attitudes to the meetings industry. The second phase is the commissioning of a research document by the key partners to present at the WTO conference in autumn this year. The Ground Breaking Agreement for Global Meetings Industry document will make recommendations for implementation via the TSA. It is hoped there will also be further development of the findings in conjunction with the United Nations of which the WTO is now an official agency.
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