Barcelona is now a leader and Fira has a vital role to play. Paris and Vienna have traditionally been the European and world capitals for hosting professional, medical, scientific and technical congresses.

Barcelona became the city with the most congresses in the world (195) in 2017, but not necessarily in terms of the number of attendees. According to the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), this ranking only includes “itinerant” congresses, meaning those that are not attached to a particular city or trade fair organization. To put it another way: neither the Mobile World Congress, the most important global event for mobile technology, with over 107,000 participants, nor any of the technological corporate meetings that are held every year by Fira de Barcelona are in the list.

The role of Fira de Barcelona as driver

One thing is clear at least: the congresses organised by Fira have made a significant contribution to Barcelona achieving first place in 2017, scaling two positions in the ranking since 2016 and affirming its position as one of the prime destinations for the organizers of this type of meeting. Barcelona has already been in first place in the past, with the highest number of attendees in the world in 2004 and the period 2008-2012. A long time ago, when trade fairs were just beginning to expand and grow, the city coined its successful slogan “Barcelona, city of fairs and congresses”. At that time, fairs and congresses were clearly different things, but today we find congresses where products are displayed and trade fairs with meetings to share knowledge. Both cases represent new opportunities for professionals, businesses and society.

Fira’s strategic decision to opt for major international events, especially in the fields of technology and health where it has a prominent position means that “the fair organization is a driving force for hosting meetings and congresses in the city“. This is the view of Pere Camprubí, External Business director for Fira de Barcelona.

Very important congresses

In 2017, Fira de Barcelona hosted the European congresses of Cardiology with 30,000 professionals, Gastroenterology, ICHNO (head and neck oncology), SEBBN (biochemistry and molecular biology), ESMRMB (magnetic resonance) or EBA (burns), among others. In technology, there were conventions for SAP, Atlassian or VM World as well as World Routes, for air transit, and the annual meeting of the INTA which brings companies together to defend the trademarks of their products.

Major technological and medical events

In 2018, the Fira sites will also welcome important congress events especially related with technology and medicine such as those of Cisco, VM Ware, SAP and Atlassian, the World Ophthalmology Congress (WOC), the meetings of the European Associations of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, Heart Rhythm (EHRA) and Extracellular Vesicles (ISEV), among others.

USA is in the lead

ICCA’s ranking of congresses by country in 2017 shows that the United States, with 941 meetings, is the leader, followed by Germany (682) and the UK (592). Spain is in fourth place, with 564 events, rising from fifth place in 2016 when it hosted 533 congresses.