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Globalisation, sustainability and legacy on agenda at IMEX Policy Forum

IMEX Policy Forum brings the political world and meetings industry closer together

Pictured: IMEX Group chairman Ray Bloom

Globalisation, localisation, city resilience, sustainability and legacy were among the challenges discussed at the IMEX Policy Forum.

Ministers and political representatives from South Africa, the Netherlands, Argentina, Sweden and South Korea were among 30 national and regional politicians and government officials who engaged with 80 meetings industry leaders.

‘The Legacy of Positive Policy Making’ was the theme of the event, formerly known as the IMEX Politicians Forum, at the InterContinental Hotel Frankfurt. The agenda had been designed to explore how to bridge the ‘partnership gap’ that exists between governments, national and local, and the meetings industry.

After a visit to the IMEX exhibition in the morning, the afternoon began with a private national government discussion in collaboration with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) chaired by Nina Freysen-Pretorius, president of the International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA).

Professor Greg Clark CBE shared insights and aroused discussions at a workshop for local, municipal and regional policy makers and destination representatives.

Exploring ’the evolution of cities in the meetings industry,’ Clark highlighted how every city went through a number of different cycles in the development of meetings business. These cycles were illustrated by case studies from Sydney, Singapore, Dubai, Tel Aviv, Cape Town and Barcelona which showed how these cycles were initiated by various factors such as airline and airport development, supportive mayors, building convention centres and hosting major international events.

At the Open Forum, moderated by Business Visits and Events Partnership chair Michael Hirst, Gloria Guevara Manzo, president and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) delivered the keynote address. She expressed clear views when examining the challenges facing all areas of the travel and tourism sector in fulfilling outstanding growth potential.

Based on research among WTTC members, she said the top three challenges were security, crisis-preparedness and management and sustainability, and she highlighted the importance of wide-ranging collaboration and partnerships between travel industry organisations. In particular, collaboration is important in engaging with governments on issues such as visa facilitation and reciprocity, and in progressing biometrics as a facilitator for security and efficiency.

Discussing sustainability, Gloria said “We must no longer think about PPP (Public Private Partnerships) but about PPC – Public, Private and Community,” because the industry needed to have the support of communities, and she highlighted the future of work as an important new consideration alongside destination and social responsibility, global climate action and tourism for tomorrow.

This keynote prefaced the Open Forum where the views of a panel of industry leaders along with Professor Greg Clark prompted debate on the key issues with the political and industry representatives contributing their valuable views.

Ray Bloom, chairman of the IMEX Group, said: “The discussions were fascinating and showed the increasing engagement and understanding between the political world and the meetings industry. IMEX has been bringing the meetings world and public policy makers together for many years and has helped to develop real appreciation of how together they can drive economic growth. Over the years we have seen genuine progress and I’m confident that today’s IMEX Policy Forum took this collaboration further forward. That is our political legacy.”

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