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Photo: Aljaž Čad

a bridge between east and west

This year’s Ace of Mice exhibition began with a high-level visit from ICCA President Martin Sirk, who emphasized in his supportive speech that Turkey and especially Istanbul, played a key role in building the international meetings industry over the last 20 years.

Turkey has established itself as a bridge between Eastern and Western Europe, followed by positive investments in their infrastructure and unprecedented international support. Sirk pointed out in his speech that the Turkish members have their full support and called to find practical solutions to overcome the current situation. A positive approach from the ICCA association was also supported by the SITE association, which was represented at the event by their president Rajeev Kohli.

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This year, the Ace of Mice exhibition was presented in collaboration with the Turkish Airlines brand, which spread a remarkable message to the meetings industry. A positive image of the Ace of Mice and Turkey as a congress destination was also presented on the aircrafts, where the exhibition and airline were represented under the common brand.

Further growth of Istanbul as a congress destinations without the support of the airline is not possible and the people at Turkish Airlines are well aware of that. They expressed their support in a manner, which created a number of multiplier effects for the industry.

Despite the fact that the entire industry is trying to stir the impression of »Business as usual«, the show noticeably slimmed down to the hall, where last year’s international destinations from Vilnius and Zagreb to Salzburg represented their destinations. At this point, the loss of confidence in the destination is at most noticeable.

the local meetings industry remains strong

Despite the current situation the local meetings industry remains strong and vital. Many powerful event agencies with their magnificent stalls reflect the strong local market of the meetings industry. The city with more than 15 million inhabitants has an extremely strong need for professional services, which is most visible at the awards ceremony taking place at the level of Oscar film awards.

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The event attracts the cream of the crop of the economy and meetings industry. Such events, with an exceptionally strong presence of hoteliers and venues remain very optimistic that Istanbul rebounded well in international events where due to the political situation lost its leading position.

The concept of the exhibition combines a B2B segment, which is attended by 750 hosted buyers according to the organizers. The fair is also open to the public, attended by over 14,000 visitors, who come to the ICC (Istanbul Congress Centre) especially in the afternoon when the fairground turns into quite a noisy and lively scene. They have taken care of the general public with exhibitors, who offer a number of on the spot team building programs and ensure that the incredible need for selfies is realized at every step.

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A bit of resentment goes to the international media, which in previous years were present in extensive numbers especially from commercial segments; but this year there was only a handful of reporters present at the spot. However, at exactly this moment Istanbul needs more support than ever – by restarting the place, the media can make a big step forward with positive coverage of the destination.

Historically, Istanbul was reborn countless of times and I have no doubt that the magnificent city by the Bosporus will be able to go through those tough times also in the field of the MICE industry. The Ace of Mice exhibition is a living proof that there are many possibilities to gain new momentum.

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