As was to be expected, 2009 was not a good year for business tourism, but even so the industry managed to close the worst year of the crisis with optimistic results.
According to the report prepared by Turespaña, in collaboration with the Spain Convention Bureau (SCB), a total of 22,266 meetings were held in 2009, with approximately 3.5 million attendees. The delegates attending these meetings, together with their companions, spent nearly €4,000 million.
The SCB – belonging to FEMP which comprises the 49 Spanish cities that are congress destinations – has been one of the main sources of information for this report, measuring the number of congress, and other similar events, held in Spain, which the Tourism Institute has prepared for the 10th year running.
According to the results of the study, in 2009 a total of 22,266 meetings, including congresses, conventions and seminars, were held, down 2,641 from 2008. This is the lowest result since 2006, although it is still an improvement on those for 2005, 2004, 2003 and 2002, the year in which the study was first conducted. The average number of meetings held during this period was 18,595.
With regard to attendance figures, 3,464,241 attendees were registered, down 643,570 from 2008. As before, this figure is lower than that for 2006, although it is an improvement on attendance figures for the period 2002-2005, when the average was 3,045,516.
Type of meetings Congresses have registered the largest drop, from 4,536 in 2008 to 3,091 in 2009, although it is the type of meeting with the highest attendance figures (33%). The fall in the number of delegates is less pronounced than that in the number of congresses, meaning that 2009 was the year with the highest delegate/congress ratio, with an average of 379.09 attendees per event.
There was a slight fall in the number of conventions held, from 6,824 to 6,793, the fourth highest figure registered since 2002. In this case, however, attendance figure fell sharply with respect to 2008, from 1,034,761 to 801,151. The number of seminars also fell, totalling 12,382 in 2009, with attendance figures down from 1,666,030 to 1,481,377.
Spain amongst most popular international destinations One of the most outstanding findings of the study is the fact that, despite the negative results due to the crisis, Spain is still one of the most popular destinations among international business travellers.
As regards international events, 4,017 meetings were held in 2009, with 1,001,614 attendees, which is the third best result since 2002. In addition, there is practically no difference with respect to the three preceding year, all of which indicates that the international market still regards Spain as a top business tourism destination.
The adverse effects of the crisis have been felt most at a national and regional level. National meetings were down from 11,117 in 2008 to 8,265 in 2009, with attendance figures dropping from nearly two million to 1.4 million. The figures are better for regional meetings, which totalled 9,984 in 2009, the second best result since the study was first conducted, with attendance figures surpassing the million mark.
Country of origin of the attendees During 2009, 77.3% of all the delegates attending meetings held in Spain were Spanish. Despite the fall in international business travel, from 27.3-11.7%, 2009 was the second best year as regards the attendance of foreign delegates since the study was first conducted.
Most international business travellers came from the UK (26.8%), followed by Germany (19.6%), Portugal (19.4%), France (13.5%) and USA (9.5%).
Highly valued destination In 2009, the main aspects of Spanish business tourism received the best ratings. The results of the study show an increase in the level of professionalism of all the aspects involved in organizing meetings and events, as well as a higher quality service.
For instance, hotel accommodation obtains 7.98 out of 10 from foreign business travellers. The general venue rating is over 8, as is that of facilities and services (staff, translation and restaurants).
Out of all the aspects that go into organizing a meeting, seven of them obtain over 8, such as global organization (8.42), registration processes (8.39), scientific programmes (8.34), social programmes (8.17), spouse programmes (8.1), marketing (8.09), and delegate information and handouts (8.08). Tourist information (7.86) is the only aspect obtaining a score of less than 8.
The report also puts the accent on the excellent rating obtained by global organization and scientific programmes, with the aim of targeting them as one of the industry’s strengths and to promote them adequately in overseas markets.
Average spending In 2009, meeting delegates and their companions spent €3,976 million, of which €2,408 million corresponded to Spanish business tourists, €1,313 to international business travellers, and €254 million to local participants.
The average daily spending of meeting delegates in 2009 was €83.13, excluding registration, travel and accommodation costs. It is the lowest average figure in seven years and, even when considering the exceptionality of the figure registered in 2007, represents a certain inflection.
The breakdown of average spending is as follows: food and beverages (50.05%), shopping (17.72%), internal transport (17.31%) and leisure and entertainment (13.72%). As regards average spending with respect to 2008, it is important to emphasize the increase in spending on food and beverages and internal transport to the relative detriment of shopping and leisure.
The average meeting registration fee was €405.73, some €53.21 less than the estimated average for 2008. Congress registration fees cost on average €408, while those for conventions and seminars were €762 and €158, respectively.
The average travel costs to and from the host city were €250.54. The outlier is logically very high in this case given the different countries of origin of delegates, since both local participants and international attendees were taken into account. Travel costs for conventions were higher (€339.26) than those for congresses (€274.67) and seminars (€154.26).
With regard to accommodation, average spending was €113.72, practically the same as in 2008 (€113.53).
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